Horse Bedding: Wood Shavings
Recommendation: A quality bedding material, provided you obtain shavings that are not dusty and are not made from poisonous woods. See Horse Bedding for a comparison to other options.
Wood shavings absorb urine better than straw, but not as well as some of the more modern bedding types (e.g. wood pellets). Overall, their performance in this area is good, but not excellent. As ammonia and odour control are strongly linked to urine absorption, their rating in these areas is 'good' as well.
Wood shavings tend to coat feces, resulting not only in a somewhat cleaner stable, but also greatly reducing smearing on a horse's coat when it lies down.
A small amount of wood shavings can absorb well the daily urine and feces from a horse, so it is normally neccessary to muck out only affected areas rather than the entire stall. This means that the amount of soiled bedding produced is low and the amount of work required for mucking out (and back-filling) is also correspondingly low.
Wood shavings can either be purchased from specialist bedding providers (in which case they will typically be bagged) or from a sawmill (in which case they are usually loose). Shavings purchased for a sawmill are generally much cheaper, but have two potential issues:
Although wood shavings from bedding specialists are relatively expensive (by weight or volume), this cost is largely offset by the fact that a much small quantity is required than for cheaper alternatives (e.g. straw), giving them a typical overall cost of 'average' when compared to other bedding types.
A good layer of wood shavings provides a safe and comfortable bed for horses. It also forms an irregular surface which provides some mental stimulation for horses.