Double Bedding System
Although there are many types of horse bedding (e.g. straw, wood pellets, sawdust), none of them are perfect. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages (See Horse Bedding for a comparison.). Having experimented with all the main types of bedding and found none of them ideal, we've developed the 'double bedding' system.
The idea of the double bedding system is to combine two types of bedding, first putting down a layer of one type of bedding (e.g. wood pellets), then covering it with another type of bedding (e.g. straw). The purpose of this is that one advantages of one layer offset the disadvantages of the other.
This can best be illustrated by an example. Straw provides excellent 'cushioning' (making it very comfortable for horses to lie on), but has poor urine absorption (leading to wet patches; also leading to high ammonia levels in unventilated stalls). On the other hand, wood pellets have good urine absorption, but can be uncomfortable to lay on. By using two layers, one gets all the advantages (comfortable and good urine absorption) without the disadvantages.
This approach may initially appear more expensive or more work than the traditional method of using only one type of bedding. In fact, the double bedding system tends to be both cheaper and less work. One can understand this by considering the above example in more detail:
There are a number of different combinations that one can use in the double bedding system. Which one is most suitable for you will depend in part on which types of bedding are locally available and their relative prices. There are two main guidelines to this system:
The double bedding system has been around for some time. In fact, a number of bedding manufacturers suggest using it. Unfortunately, this has not been very successful, because the manufacturers typically propose their products and their products are generally related. For example, one manufacturer suggests using a combination of wood chips and wood pellets. As these products are not 'complimentary' (see above discussion), this approach provides little benefit.
The approach we've developed is different in that it is based on complementary bedding materials, so that the advantages of one layer offsets the disadvantages of the other. In our experience, this approach is for more effective and generally less expensive.