Looking for a reason not to muck your stalls today?

mucking stallAll of us who take care of our own horses have had days when cleaning out stalls is a major inconvenience. My horse is out 24/7, so it’s not a disaster if I miss a day, but I’ve always felt incredibly guilty about leaving the stalls undone.

However, according to German researchers, not only do you not have to muck out stalls daily, but it’s preferable! Who would have thought this to be possible. I found this article on http://www.thehorse.com.

The researchers set out to compare different types of bedding and mucking out regimes used in horse stables on the production of particle matter and biogenic gases – carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and especially ammonia.

Three separate experiments were undertaken, each carried out in an enclosed stable with five single boxes housing four horses.

Measuring instruments were set up in the middle of one side of the stable.

In the first experiment, the three types of bedding material were assessed according to their ammonia generation. Each type of bedding was used for two weeks, with three repetitions of the experiment.

The average ammonia concentrations were lowest for wheat straw – 3.07 milligrams per cubic metre of air, plus or minus 0.23mg per cubic metre – compared with 4.79 for straw pellets (which showed an identical level of variation to wheat straw) and a level of 4.27 for wood shavings, which showed a slightly lower level of variation.

In the second part of the experiment, the effects of the mucking out regimes on the generation of ammonia and particles from wheat straw were examined using three different daily methods:

  • No mucking out.
  • Complete mucking out.
  • Partial mucking out, in which only the faeces were removed.

Average ammonia concentrations differed significantly between all three mucking-out regimes, the researchers found.

“The highest values were recorded when the stalls were mucked out completely every day,” they wrote.

No mucking out at all resulted in ammonia levels about 15 per cent lower than when the stalls were mucked out completely. Ammonia levels in partial mucking out were, on average, 32 per cent lower than what they were with complete mucking out.

Now, can you see a boarding stable around you making that argument to horse owners?! I can guarantee that won’t fly. Certainly, whenever I’ve missed a day, my stalls do not look (or smell) acceptable.

One thought on “Looking for a reason not to muck your stalls today?

  1. Hmmm….I’m not sure I’m buying this one. I’m wondering how often they took ammonia readings – maybe if they took them immediately after the mucking it might have been a bit higher, then faded. It would be interesting if they’d done continuous readings over the study period or at least before/during/after cleaning. Also interesting if the readings had been taken in the stalls in addition to a central area. I think the findings might have been a bit different if that were the case. Intriguing though….and good to use as an excuse on a lazy day!

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