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.