Are you using hay bedding in your stalls? According to an article in The Horse, dust particles, mold spores and fibrous plant materials found in hay bedding can cause severe respiration irritation when inhaled by horses. Together, these irritants can result in shortness of breath, coughing and other symptoms which can impact training and exercise. In addition, a recent university study shows that matured hay bedding can be dangerous for pregnant mares in the third trimester due to fescue toxicity. Here are four safety tips for those using hay bedding:
1. Wet the hay bedding: A study conducted at the University of Edinburgh suggests wetting hay bedding before it is put in stalls can significantly reduce dust concentration. The most effective way of limiting dust is by immersing hay bedding in water and then immediately putting it in the stall. If not done right away, the hay bedding will dry which could allow respirable dust levels to increase.
2. Remove horses while mucking: The study concluded dust levels are higher when there is a lot of activity in the barn. Therefore, remove horses while mucking out stalls or during any other frequent activity.
3. Test mature hay for toxins: It is not uncommon for horses to eat their bedding. Tall fescues may contain high levels of the toxin ergovaline. This could cause problems for pregnant mares and their unborn foal. Ergovaline tests can cost up to $50 per sample, but it is money well spent to protect your mare.
4. Select alternative bedding: Reducing the amount of hay used for bedding can reduce the risks posed by dust irritants and/or fescue toxicity. SmartStall™ Foam Mattress by IGK Equestrian features a waterproof industrial top cover which creates a “moisture tray” that allows all liquids and manure to be captured on top and easily removed. This not only results in a cleaner, drier environment but it also reduces the amount of hay and other bedding needed in the stall.
Let IGK Equestrian know which bedding you would choose to keep your horses safe?