Easier to clean than shavings, but dustier.
Controlling ammonia and dust in barns can be a challenge. A study at North Dakota State Univ. recently looked into different bedding types and their ability to reduce ammonia smell and dust.
Bedding treatments consisted of an aspen and wheat based pellet and wood shavings. Ammonia levels were lower for stalls bedded with the pelleted product (3.9 ppm) than with the shavings (8.4 ppm). Also, ammonia levels increased to a greater degree over the length of the treatment period in stalls bedded with shavings compared to stalls bedded with pellets.
Stalls bedded with pellets were easier to clean than stalls bedded with shavings, however, they were dustier.
Stalls bedded with pellets tended to have more waste removed during the trial period. Also, the amount removed remained similar each day for stalls bedded with shavings, while in contrast, bedding removed from stalls bedded with pellets increased throughout the trial period. Its was hypothesized that this was due to increased absorbency of the pelleted product.
Stalls bedded with shavings required additional bedding to be added sooner than stalls bedded with the pelleted product. A substantial difference in total bedding used was observed, with an average total weight of 45 kg/stall for shaving and 136 kg/stall for the pelleted product. This could possibly be a hindrance to horse owners who have limited storage capacity. However, a benefit of the pelleted bedding is that it did not require additional bedding through the trial period.
Overall, the pelleted product performed well. Researchers thought it was easy to clean and handle, and no adverse affects were observed in any of the horses bedded on this material.