Stall Bedding Options

Horse barn with stall bedding
It is important to consider the type of stall bedding that best suits your horse’s needs. Photo by D. Franc Salas/


The most important features of stall bedding are absorbency, comfort, non-toxicity, availability and affordability. Here are a few to consider:


Pro: Offers cushioning

Cons: Can be dusty or moldy; can be palatable, especially oat straw; not absorbent of moisture or odors

Pelleted straw

Pros: Absorbent; low dust

Con: More expensive form of stall bedding

Wood shavings or sawdust

Pros: Less dusty than straw; very absorbent; may be available from a local sawmill for low or no cost; not palatable

Cons: Must ensure no black walnut shavings are included; needs to be picked from hooves regularly

Wood chips

Pros: Very absorbent and comfortable; low dust

Cons: More difficult to keep clean; must ensure no black walnut chips are included in the stall’s bedding

Pelleted wood

Pros: Very absorbent; low dust; transported in small volume and then expands when wet; can contain odor-absorbing additives

Cons: Not appropriate for use on a dirt floor because it will absorb moisture from floor; may be expensive


Pros: Doesn’t harbor bacteria; very comfortable; not palatable

Cons: Not absorbent; difficult to dispose of; can cause sand colic if eaten off of

Ground corn stalks and cobs

Pro: Offers cushioning when used in volume

Cons: Not often readily available; may be palatable as stall bedding

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This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!


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