Our objective in this study is to compare 4 of the most common bedding materials used by equine operations on the chemical and physical characteristics of composted equine stall waste. Twelve Standardbred horses were adapted to the barn and surrounding environment for 2 wk before the start of the study. Groups of 3 horses were bedded on 1 of 4 different bedding types (wood shavings, pelletized wood materials, long straw, and pelletized straw) for 16 h per day for 18 d. Stalls were cleaned by trained staff daily, and all contents removed were weighed and stored separately by bedding material on a level covered concrete pad for the duration of the study. Compost piles were constructed using 3 replicate piles of each bedding type in a randomized complete block design. Each pile was equipped with a temperature sensor and data logger. Water was added and piles were turned weekly throughout the 100-d compost process. Initial and final samples were taken, dried, and analyzed for DM mass, OM, inorganic nitrogen (nitrate-N and ammonium-N), electrical conductivity, and soluble (plant-available) nutrients. Data were analyzed using the GLM procedure, and means were separated using Fischer's protected LSD test (P < 0.05). No significant temperature differences were observed among the bedding materials. The composting process resulted in significant reductions (P < 0.05) in DM mass for each of the 4 bedding materials. The composting process resulted in significant reductions (P < 0.05) in OM and C:N ratio for all 4 bedding materials. The composted long straw material had greater concentrations of total Kjeldahl nitrogen (P < 0.05), nitrate-N (P < 0.05), and ammonium-N (P < 0.05) than the composted wood shavings. This study demonstrated that incorporating a simple aerobic composting system may greatly reduce the overall volume of manure and yield a material that is beneficial for land application in pasture-based systems. The strawbased materials may be better suited for composting and subsequent land application; however, factors such as suitability of the bedding material for equine use, material cost, labor, and availability must be considered when selecting a bedding material.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Stall waste