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Straw- what's the least absorbent?

I have stall skins and I feel like I’m using more shavings than I should because they break down to dust and are absorbing too much urine, which basically defeats the purpose of the skins. I also want to be able to compost and spread the manure.

So I’m looking to switch to straw. What’s your favorite type and what have you found to be the least absorbent?

Straw is the least absorbent. I suspect the bright yellow is the best there. After that comes shavings, and then pellets, and sawdust.

Since our barn has mats, the BO uses pellets-can’t get sawdust. BO did try straw-disaster.

I’ve used wheat straw in the past but because I have rubber mats in all the stalls, I still had to use shavings underneath to absorb the urine. Didn’t have problems with the horses eating it as they had plenty of hay but I think I remember someone telling me NOT to use oat straw as the horses would eat it.

While I don’t entirely disagree that straw is less absorbent when compared to shavings. I only use straw and rarely find puddles when bedded properly. There is a technique to bedding with straw properly to avoid puddling. At least for most horses. Any puddles that are in the stall can easily be cleaned up by raking the “fines” into it and forking/shoveling out.

We don’t use mats never found the need for them. IMO and experience they do more for the owner than the horse. Good marketing. To each their own on this.

Using straw on mats may have different results than what I experience without.

“I suspect the bright yellow is the best there”

People who use straw tend to pay top dollar for “bright yellow”. More because of it pretty look than anything else. A freshly bedded stall with bright yellow looks great and very comfy. It has more “loft” to it. 1 bale expands greatly and fills a stall nicely.

But IMO it is not as absorbent as say a brownish yellow straw. Bright yellow straw is more glossy, waxy, cell fibers are tight and it doesn’t break down, “crack open” easily to absorb things.

Where as straw that is on the brownish side of things has either been rained on a bit and or lay in the field after harvesting for a longer period before being baled. The combination of the 2 breaks down the stem cell fibers. It crumbles more from horses walking on it making it much more absorbent. This I have found to be true. I think observe these things when I have been doing stalls.

Around here the 2 main types of straw are Wheat and Barley. I grew up using straw. The school of thought has always been that Wheat is more absorbent than Barley. Barley does have thicker stalks and seems to be more “waxy”. But I haven’t found much difference between the 2. Barley is harvested before Wheat by almost a month and is priced lower than Wheat straw. I buy by price not look.

I prefer brownish yellow for reason explained and it cost less at auction. The pony clubber can pay extra $$ for the look.

The biggest problem with straw these days is the way it is harvested, rather the type of combine used and how it is set up. Rotary combines tend to cut it up much more, mulch it more. Short stems and broken up. A lot of straw is baled and used for the landscaping market. So producers don’t usually change the way the combine is set up to produce long stem straw. The “mulched” straw can be baled tighter so less bales quicker to get off the field.

But this type of straw take a lot more to fill a stall. But it is a lot more absorbent. Trade off. The price of straw around here has sky rocketed. From $2-3 per bale to upwards of $5. If it wasn’t for the mushroom industry that comes, picks up and pays for straw muck out people might think about changing to shavings. It is easy to get by the truck load. But the farm owner would have to pay to have it disposed of.

I don’t worry about horses eating a bit of straw. Don’t have any with metabolic issues.

When I used straw, I had a chopper to put it through. Makes it much more absorbent. Rally dusty when chopping, but horses were never in the barn when using. Switched to shavings , as more convenient, but I still like straw better, as I feel the horses find it nicer to lay in.

I’m going to be switching back to straw, using this product… http://www.goldfieldscanada.com/

Already chopped, and a bale is comparable in price to shavings, but the ‘loft’ is greater than shaving. Will let you know how I like it when I get to using it.

I use the bagged chopped straw (they call it healthistraw locally). Easy to muck, it is dust free, decent absorbancy and attractive. It is slippery when first put out, and the bags front the local company are really compressed so can be a bit of a pain if you don’t want to use a whole bag.

Barley straw which has not been rained on, is bright, and has not been chopped is your best bet if you seriously don’t want bedding to absorb urine and water spills.

Oat straw “that has never seen a combine” lol is your next best option except for the tastiness. My boss ended up renting a giant chopper and blowing it back up into the loft. It was horrible. Cowz thought it was the best most tastiest straw ever.

I use the bagged chopped straw (they call it healthistraw locally). Easy to muck, it is dust free, decent absorbancy and attractive. It is slippery when first put out, and the bags front the local company are really compressed so can be a bit of a pain if you don’t want to use a whole bag.[/QUOTE]

The majority of straw that I have worked in the Mid-Atlantic, an KY has little to no dust. Other than maybe surface dust. None that should give cause for concern. Just about any baled straw should be the same

Unlike hay baling straw needs a lot less “manhandling”. It is harvested/combined dry and yellow. It comes out of most modern combines pretty much already in a windrow. Depending on the size of the baler it could be baled right of the combine.

It doesn’t need to be tedded/turnover so one less “rake” that kicks up surface dust. When raked into windrows the rake can be set high enough not to scrape the soil-dust.

If it should get rained on very easy to gently ted and rake. It drys quickly even if the soil is still on the wet side of things. Less dust kicked up.

Good bedding straw is long stemmed. That is what it is all about. One bale will fill a stall nicely. Thick and comfy looking. Chopped straw defeats that purpose. It takes 2 bales of chopped/mulched straw to do the same that 1 bale of long stemmed wheat straw can do.

I usually buy out of the field and or bale myself for a discount. The farmer uses an older pre-rotary combine. It kicks out beautiful long stem straw that is not seen much anymore.

Delivered a couple of wagon to a friend who runs a big show barn. She freaked out how beautiful and far more cost effective it was using this type of straw. She wanted more but no more to be had. She should have trusted me when I told her she should buy as much as she can store. ESPECIALLY because I was given her the “friends rate”.

“healthistraw” there’s some marketing for ya. No snark intended. I bet it is making the wallet of the company owner pretty healthy.

I here ya on the marketing - they really push the dust free aspect, but honestly I have never had an issue with dust in regular straw. I only use it cause I prefer mucking it (as it is similar to mucking shavings) and it’s cheaper than shavings. They are going to put the price up with the new year so probably was my last load.