Manure Management Part 2 -Odor -New Bedding on the Block

Hemp bedding is made from hemp hurds or the soft inner core of the hemp plant.  Widely used in Europe it is just becoming known in the United States.

Currently all the hemp bedding sold in the United States is imported from Europe so the cost per bale is higher than per bale of more traditional bedding such as paper or shavings but with the movement in many states toward legalizing industrial hemp production manufacturers hope that domestic production will be possible in late 2017 or 2018.

Many who have used this type of horse bedding have said it is generally better for horse health because it traps ammonia and unwanted smells, as well as keeping the urine spots from spreading as much. For horses with respiratory problems, hemp bedding has minimal dust, and is also free from chemicals that could hurt the horse. It has a high thermal rating, keeping horses warmer in the colder months whether they chose to lay down or stand up.

Hemp bedding is also said to biodegrade faster than other beddings making it more environmentally friendly and great for would be composters! Within 8 weeks the bedding will have completely biodegraded and turned into a highly fertile organic fertilizer, which is ideal for garden compost. The used bedding is also less acidic so when it does decompose it doesn’t kill the things around it. Because the decomposition rate is so rapid the size of manure piles is reduced as are any related disposal costs. Hemp is also a more renewable bedding source because of its relatively rapid growth rate.

Each bag that can be bought individually is approximately 33 pounds, prices per bag average from $12.50 to $20.99 depending on the source. Generally, as with all things, if you buy in bulk a slightly lower price can be expected.

Starting the use of hemp bedding in a stall is easy and though it may seem to require several bales to establish a base bedding it does seem to last longer than traditional bedding. At one of the barns I work with they used four of the large bales to bed a 12 x 14 stall and it was quite deep, the bedding remained at an acceptable depth for more than a week appearing to fluff up each time it was disturbed during cleaning.

The wet areas did indeed seem to absorb under the clean top layer and there was much less product removed each day from the stalls. The dust level was virtually non-existent and the stall and bedding smelled as fresh as the day the new bedding was spread even a week or ten days later without the addition of any new bedding.

Check out these two informational videos:

and an interview with one of the Hemp bedding producers

and information about the Hemp industry in general

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Shelly Ingram

I am a third generation horsewoman; My father operated a 50 horse boarding and training facility in northern California, where he specialized in re-training spoiled horses. I was his demonstration rider and general assistant in all aspects of running the ranch. I went on to work for several major show and race horse trainers, eventually opening my own barn where I focused on Junior and Amateur riders. I have trained numerous champion horses and riders on all levels and in variety of disciplines. I have also worked as a journalist and have more than a decade of experience in land use planning.

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