Bedding Horses on Straw: the Pros, Cons and Some Surprising Study Results

Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Allison Price

For many years, straw has been used to provide bedding for horses and farm animals. Straw is warm and allows urine and other liquids out. It also provides a comfortable and affordable bed.

Studies have shown horses that are better off sleeping on straw than other bedding types. However, more attention is being paid to the effects straw and hay have on horses’ respiratory health.

Haygain and other companies are highlighting the effects of dusty bedding and forage on horses and their owners’ respiratory health. They also offer ways to reduce the amount of harmful particles in the air.

Straw and your horse
In 2014, a study showed that horses who were fed straw and non-steamedhay had 17 times more dust exposure than horses who were fed shavings and steamedhay.

Bedding Horses on Straw

Performance horses have poor respiratory health, which is why stable managers prioritize maintaining their health. Training yards have also stopped using straw and started steaming hay to remove most of the harmful particles.

You and straw
In 2014, a separate study examined the prevalence and causes of respiratory problems in horsemen. It was based on the amount of time spent at the yard, their use of straw, and the stable environment in which they were working.

This study was the first to publish any information about the prevalence of respiratory diseases in the UK horse-owning population.

Stable staff who used straw-bedded stables, filled hay nets with forage and swept the complex twice daily or worked with horses in enclosed stables were more likely to develop respiratory disease.

To ensure that yards are safe for everyone to use, stable management will help to reduce the risk of respiratory diseases in horses and staff.

The facts

  • A separate study revealed that 84% of horses were suffering from Inflammatory airway Disease (IAD). This is due to the respiratory dust in straw and hay.
  • There are approximately 3.5 million people employed in the UK’s equine industry. This means that up to 1.7 million of these stable employees could be suffering from respiratory diseases.
  • Nearly half (46%) of the people who participated in the study had experienced a respiratory disorder. 52% also suffered from asthma. If not treated and managed properly, this condition can prove to be fatal.
    Visit the Haygain website for more information about straw and its respiratory effects.
Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!