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Discussion on Sand for stall bedding

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Ann
Member
Username: lilly

Post Number: 198
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Wednesday, Jul 16, 2008 - 4:34 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Today I was at my horse's barn and I noticed that one of the stalls did not have wood shavings for bedding, it just had sand. The floor of the stall was covered with a deep bed of sand. The barn owner said that it has been great bedding. The urine flows right through to the clay ground below and the manure is easy to pick out. What are the drawbacks to using sand for bedding?
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DianeW
Member
Username: tasia

Post Number: 24
Registered: 6-2006
Posted on Wednesday, Jul 16, 2008 - 4:57 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

If hay falls onto the sand bedding, and the horse eats the hay and eats sand with it, I would think the barn owner is running a huge chance of the horse getting sand colic.

I'm no expert on this, but that is what I understand from some of the material I read.
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Andrea Duncan
Member
Username: babychop

Post Number: 114
Registered: 5-2008
Posted on Wednesday, Jul 16, 2008 - 5:02 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Sand colic. Not worth it. I had a friend loose a beautiful filly to it. If you have it under a permeable surface, such as 'stall skins' where the sand is separated from the horse or any food he might drop then it's another story but just plain sand, don't do it.
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 2418
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Jul 16, 2008 - 5:08 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I too have seen a few horses sand colic when fed on sand. One ended up having surgery. On the other hand I have seen horses fed hay on sand pastures and never have a problem. Probably depends on the horse, I'd never tempt fate...Know better by now you don't do that with horses
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Ann
Member
Username: lilly

Post Number: 200
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Wednesday, Jul 16, 2008 - 7:03 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I was thinking of sand colic too. The frustrating thing is that my barn is owned/operated by a veterinarian. From what I understand, the vet and his wife are going to put sand in their own horse's stalls after seeing how it has worked with this individual mare. They have a friend that claims to have used sand for 3 years with no problems what-so-ever. Do you ever feel like you're always screwed when you try something risky with your horse but Joe Schmo can cut every corner without a problem? Sorry for venting.
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leslie christian
Member
Username: leslie1

Post Number: 208
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Wednesday, Jul 16, 2008 - 9:28 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I lived in Northern Arizona...nothing but sand,sand, sand everywhere!!! The mountains were of sandstone. I boarded my horses for several years, at the rodeo grounds. About 50 horses were boarded there on a permanent basis. Not one person had anything other than sand in their corrals.. just the natural sand that was on the ground. It was naturally about 6 inches deep. I loved it. No urine stink/wet spots. The sand would absorb it immediately. Easy to pick thru. Comfy.
I have always known about sand colic, and so have always fed psylium.
I can only think of a couple of colics in all the years I was there. Thinking back to then, I dont see any difference in the rates of occurence ( sand VS straw, shavings, pellets etc.)
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jos
Member
Username: paardex

Post Number: 882
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, Jul 17, 2008 - 3:45 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I've had sand with a rubber mat in front for the hay and under the feed bucket.
The horses loved it, each night they dug holes as if they were on their way to China,pulled their rubber mats throug their box and like cats mixed their droppings under the sand
No sand colics but I got exhausted and ordered concrete.[I had two year old stallions on it perhaps something older and working harder behaves better]
Jos
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Fran C
Member
Username: canter

Post Number: 1569
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Thursday, Jul 17, 2008 - 7:14 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Depending on the fineness of the sand, I would also wonder about how abrasive it is - will the horse get hock sores from lying down it it?
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Ann
Member
Username: lilly

Post Number: 202
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Thursday, Jul 17, 2008 - 1:57 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks for the input. I guess I am just skeptical about the sand because it sounds to good to be true.
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Ann
Member
Username: lilly

Post Number: 213
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Monday, Jul 28, 2008 - 6:16 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr.O,
What are your thoughts on using sand for bedding? The horses in question spend about 10 hours a day in their stalls. They have a corner of stall sectioned off with wood to drop hay into but a good amount of hay is always pulled out and dropped onto the hay, then eaten. It just seems like these horses would be ingesting a lot of sand.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 21115
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Jul 28, 2008 - 9:06 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have never cared for sand because of the increase urine odor and increase irritation to the skin when the horse lays down. Yes messy horses on sand may pick up enough to cause problems but if care is taken some of that risk can be removed for many horses. Then again what is the perfect bedding? As you read above some have had it work maybe there horses did not lie down much and the stalls well ventilated?
DrO
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Muffi Delaney
Member
Username: muffi

Post Number: 282
Registered: 1-2006
Posted on Thursday, Jul 31, 2008 - 1:51 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Fran & Dr O - I have Sand outside where my horses sleep - and posted something a few months about about hock sores. but.... they have callused up and no longer an issue. still sleeping in the sand, no issues. They seek out the sand to lay down in - I see them napping in the day too. Flat out enjoying their z's.
but for feeding - I too will not tempt the Gods or Colic. I feed on swept off matts in their stalls. and do the Psyllium trick every month.
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PURDUE77
New Member
Username: purdue77

Post Number: 1
Registered: 1-2009
Posted on Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 - 3:02 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I've been reading the posts about using sand as bedding in stalls. I've seen psyllium mentioned a couple of times as a preventative for sand colic. Is this fed in their regular feeding program? How much do you use per horse and where and how do you purchase the psyllium? We have stall skins and found wood shavings to be too bulky and messy and would like to switch to several inches of sand but don't want to encounter problems with colic from it. Thanks for any advice.
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leslie645
Member
Username: leslie1

Post Number: 580
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 - 4:11 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

HeY Perdue
You can get it at most any feed store. Directions on the package ---you usually dose them one week a month.
There is also a product called Coli-clenz that is a actually feed pellet...also at feed stores, it kinda expensive and I have no idea if its anymore effective than plain pysllium.

My horses were on sand outside...not in a stall. Ive never heard of sand used with stall skins...let us know how it works.:-)
Leslie
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Cheryl K
Member
Username: cheryl

Post Number: 419
Registered: 2-2000
Posted on Sunday, Jan 25, 2009 - 8:50 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Re-hydrated wood pellets works great for bedding - easy to clean - wet spots a snap to remove - the horses seem to love it - not bulky - very little waste when cleaning the stalls - and no worries about sand colic.
Cheryl
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dieliz
Member
Username: dsibley

Post Number: 134
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Sunday, Jan 25, 2009 - 11:33 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I run a boarding stable, and have found that pelleted corncobs work extremely well for bedding. They break down to a fine consistency, almost like sand, but are fluffy and easy to clean as well. If care is taken not to bed too deeply, the odor problem is minimal. I will caution, though, that they don't work well on clay. You really need rubber mats/stall skins for them to be effective.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 22182
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Sunday, Jan 25, 2009 - 12:04 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Welcome Purdue,
For more on the problems of sand and efficacy of psyllium see Diseases of Horses » Colic, Diarrhea, GI Tract » Colic in Horses » Sand Colic.
DrO
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Lee
Member
Username: paul303

Post Number: 1236
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Sunday, Jan 25, 2009 - 8:59 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have mats in my stalls ( over gravel, then crushed stone, then sand and mats on top ). I really favor the wood pellets, and can't figure why anyone would risk sand. I'm in a very sandy area and even cover the ground under my outside hay racks with mats. One sand colic was enough. We also pick up psyllium at the feed store, and feed for 1 week each month. There's a measuring cup in the tub.
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warthog
Member
Username: warthog

Post Number: 26
Registered: 12-2008
Posted on Sunday, Jan 25, 2009 - 9:49 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

we live in "sand central" and all our horses are in large sand paddocks and of course they sleep and eat in them. I've seen a horse who died later that night from sand colic and it is horrible. that said - the latest lit I've read on sand colic indicates that the BEST way to keep sand moving is to feed hay 24/7. Psyllium does not work nearly as well.

We do this although it is a problem with our very easy keepers. we've starting running them from the ground daily to keep the weight off and feed the least nutritious hay we can find that is not old and moldy. we look for the coarse stuff. Now regarding psyllium, one other study indicated that if you add mineral oil to psyllium you get a lot better results. Our horses will eat mineral oil and psyllium and alfalfa in pretty large quantities free choice - like a quart of oil and a pint of psyllium a feeding - so if we get a belly ache this is what we feed.

we've tried to put down tarps and mats for them to eat from but they still manage to move hay and grain onto the sand and then pick it up. It's a scary problem but I wouldn't worry so much about the sand in the stall if it drains well and if the horse has hay or pasture available 24/7.

One of our vets told us that the reason psyllium doesn't work is because not enough of it is fed. He says he tubes with a quart of it with probably a gallon of oil and that works. The sand pours from the other end according to this vet.
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Linda Schilkowsky, DVM
Member
Username: lindas

Post Number: 89
Registered: 2-2008
Posted on Monday, Jan 26, 2009 - 8:31 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

That's interesting, in a week or so I'll be turning out my one and only broodmare (my daughter's pride and joy) in our riding arena so she can avoid the fescue pasture the last 2 months of her pregnancy. Of course, the arena is full of sand! I'm going to order some psyllium...have never seen it in the feed stores around here because we have only clay soil here. I'm planning to put down mats to put her hay on, but I'm sure she will move it around. I would not think there is any concerns with psyllium and pregnancy. Is there?
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: mrose

Post Number: 4475
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Monday, Jan 26, 2009 - 11:11 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I don't know what kind of fencing you have around your arena, but those plastic hay feeder that hang on a fence keep most of the hay off the ground and cost about $45. There'll be a little that falls on the ground, but most of the hay stays behind the bars of the feeder. Just a thought.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 22187
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Jan 26, 2009 - 11:55 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

DrS, be sure to review our article on Sand Colic we have management suggestions to help prevent problems.
DrO
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warthog
Member
Username: warthog

Post Number: 32
Registered: 12-2008
Posted on Monday, Jan 26, 2009 - 1:08 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

https://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=3463

a quote from above
On the other hand, a 1998 study by the University of Illinois examined elimination of sand from the large intestine by feeding psyllium. All 12 horses in the study had sand surgically placed in their cecums. Six horses were fed or stomach tubed with psyllium while the other six (control) horses received none. Their abdomens were radiographed on Days 1, 5, and 11 to compare the control and treated horses for transit and evacuation of sand from the intestines. All were euthanized on Day 11 and the amount of sand remaining in the intestines was weighed.

The study found no statistical difference between the treated vs. the non-treated ponies with the conclusion that psyllium did not hasten the evacuation of sand from the bowels. However, a few points should be noted regarding this study: Veterinarians in different parts of the United States have noted different degrees of success in treating sanded horses with psyllium. It is possible that not all sand is created equal, and it is possible that not all sand/dirt throughout the United States is amenable to psyllium therapy.

http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=11603


http://www.horsegroomingsupplies.com/horse-forums/how-do-you-get-rid-sand-gut-34 418.html

vet tec's experience with sand colic

5. We tried EVERY type of psyillium Pelleted, crumbles AND Powder. There seemed to be NO difference in effectiveness between the types. All seemed to work as effectively. However we did not have any special research studies, just the evidence of the manure piles (full of sand) and the recover of the colicing horses.
6. We used the doseage recommend on the package and yes every brand is different and every brand SEEMED to work well at the dosage recommended.

end of quote

Avoid metamucil and generics - they have a lot of sugar. the only human brand that is good is Konsyl.

BRAN DOES NOT MOVE SAND so don't even bother trying it. Google and you will see that it does not work.

http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=10551

an interesting article on colic in general including sand colic and emphasizing the benefit of pasture and hay 24/7.

Hope these help. Sand colic is so very scary so keep an eye on your horses when they first move to sand because we had two colics within weeks of moving our horses to a sandy area - one was not sand related and required surgery to remove part of the small intestine (birth defect) but the other may have been from sand.
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Linda Schilkowsky, DVM
Member
Username: lindas

Post Number: 91
Registered: 2-2008
Posted on Monday, Jan 26, 2009 - 3:57 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Very interesting...in the small animal part of the profession I have a great deal of respect for well conducted research, as well as respect for anecdotal experience! And the two don't always mix! I'm going to use the psyllium "just in case!", along with management techniques. Too bad we don't have a lot without sand, but you can't have everything.

I'm going to have to put her hay out on rubber mats. Both of my horses promptly remove all of their hay from any type of hay rack as soon as it is fed, then proceed to eat it off the ground. I'm going to sell the hay racks that I put in the stalls! This mare does not spread the hay around when fed outside so I think the mats will work. The only concern I have is if she finishes her hay while we are at work she will probably get bored and go around rooting for stuff to eat. I killed all the grass out there last fall but still have to dig it all up. Maybe I can come home every day during lunch to give her more hay and keep her busy. If I give her too much she really might spread it all around.

In response to the question that started this post...I'm not sure I would like to bed with sand. Not all horses will eat from racks, and the danger of sand colic is real. I like my concrete with rubber pads although we do have problems with bed sores even when the bedding is thick. I think the concrete is also hard on their joints. We use bed sore boots to protect fetlocks and hocks as needed. And we let them out as much as possible. When I was growing up our stall floors were hard Georgia clay, and except for depressions in the middle of the gelding's stalls they did fine.
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Lee
Member
Username: paul303

Post Number: 1237
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Monday, Jan 26, 2009 - 9:04 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Man oh man....I'll cling to my psyllium, if for no other reason than superstition. 11 years ago when my horses first moved to this sand, that one colic was ugly and scarey enough. To this day, with all our management practices, there's never been another problem ( we check for sand in the feces constantly ). I'm also a firm believer in free choice hay. We raise hay, so we're able to keep it in front of them 32/8.....or better......!! I'm a sand colic phobic.
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 3588
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 - 7:24 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

The one horse I had seen have massive amounts of sand in it's guts (requiring surgery) was fed mostly alfalfa hay. The rest of the horses on the sand were fed grass hay. From my observation, the horse that was fed alfalfa ate more sand because she was trying to eat every bit of those tasty alfalfa leaves that fall off the hay. The ones fed grass hay could pick the grass out of the sand without much ingestion. These horse were fed on mats also, but tended to "toss" their hay about.

From my limited experience with it, I would think feeding pure grass hay where sand is present would help keep colic risks lower....More fiber to move things, and no scrounging in the sand for those tasty alfalfa leafs
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Vicki Zaneis
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 852
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 - 1:20 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

My farm is ON a true "sand hill" and after moving here I followed various anti-sand measures in the early years of living here.

For many years now I have used one week a month treatment in accordance with the instructions on the psyllium bucket and have had excellent results.

Sometimes psyllium products have additives that may not agree with a particular horse's system, or a horse may be reluctant to eat a particular brand.

Currently I am using Equi-Aid because it is well-accepted and that means that I don't have to grind up feed pellets or follow other measures to get one of my boys to eat the stuff.

I have always followed all of the research and studies as have the Veterinarians that I know in the area. Many of them here continue to believe that it is prudent to follow a sanding program in a location such as mine. Some farms slightly north of me have better soil and conditions, and I have friends from such farms who do NOT practice sand precautions except for generous amounts of hay being fed and they do feed grain from buckets. In some cases they do feed the hay from the ground (yes, I know all of the pros and cons about this).

Warthog makes a good point regarding the varying types of sand as there are various types within the county that I live in. What I have on my farm is very fine and of a type that puts me in what is called a "high recharge area."

Also, I believe that some individual horses (whose digestive systems are not as efficient, perhaps) may benefit more than others from treatment with psyllium.

A major problem with sand absorption on my farm comes with the annual eating of the acorns and when horses dig the grass out by the roots, creating bare areas.

It is impossible to prevent sand ingestion on my farm unless I would never turn my horses out.

My stall floors are a combination of sand and clay covered with a thick layer of shavings. I feed plenty of grass (coastal) hay and believe that unlimited hay is a major ingredient to keeping sand from collecting dangerously inside of a horse.

I recall reading about a study that showed horses picking hay up off of sand did not ingest the sand, but they ingested sand when picking grain off of the sand, and I have to agree with Diane that the type of hay could be important to the outcome.
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warthog
Member
Username: warthog

Post Number: 34
Registered: 12-2008
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 - 1:40 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

as I mentioned, we too are terrified of sand colic

we fed free choice alfalfa when we couldn't get good grass hay and other than getting fat, we had no problems and in fact both our horses who have had colic surgery were put on alfalfa or t & a and our old mare who stayed skinny for 4 years put on weight finally on the alfalfa, so it is good stuff and great to move food through the gut. One thing we do now to avoid their eating sand is feed the alfalfa on top of the discarded hay from the grass round bales that cover the sand quite well as we are now feeding round bales of grass hay and one group also is supplemented alfalfa. we too are worried about them eating sand as they try to pick up all the alfalfa and this was our solution.

I forgot to mention one other study I read that indicated that beet pulp moves sand through well also. We have fed beet pulp for probably 8 years now, both in our grain and as a supplement because we serve it with water (not soaked, just wetted with about 3 to 1 water to beet pulp) to maintain hydration and are firm believers in it as a good source of low carb and low sugar nutrition. So you might add some beet pulp and water (supposedly it can be fed safely dry but since dehydration is such a problem in the southeast, why not serve it wet?) to your feed ration or use a beet pulp based feed plus water (there are several out there from the big feed manufacturers like triple crown senior, purina ultium and seminole makes one also). we also feed all grain with about a 2 to 1 water to grain ratio. the only problem we have with this is that our horses love to wipe their slobbery mouths on our clothing after a meal.

One regimen my boarding barn owner friend uses for impaction colics is alternating psyllium and grain with epsom salts, oil and water and alfalfa once a day. the psyllium has to be fed dry because it turns to glue when wet usually so we chase it either with the alfalfa, oil, water, epsom salts mix or feed this mix later in the day. the epsom salts causes additional water to be pulled into the digestive system which ensures that the psyllium has plenty of water to help it do it's job of mopping up the sand. She has had very good luck with this in regular impaction colics. I've only used it once with no problems but be sure to ask vets about this because it might not be a good idea in some cases??? we used a tablespoon of epsom salts by the way.

I'd love to hear from you guys on the epsom salts to help with hydration in the digestive system.
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Vicki Zaneis
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 855
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 - 3:48 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Good idea about spreading some lesser (but safe) quality hay under the alfalfa if feeding on the ground. I have heard that alfalfa is helpful to move things through a horse. My guys have done well on coastal hay for years and most of them can get fat from that free choice, so not much else is given on my farm except in times of extenuating circumstances.

Years ago I did have an experience when a Veterinarian gave an epsom salt, water, oil mixture (by tube) in the case of an slight impaction colic that was accompanied by gas. The results were good though it took several hours for the colic to completely resolve. She has since moved out west and no one else has ever used this approach since, but I haven't had any additional impaction colic cases either.
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Lisa Engel Belhage
Member
Username: lisabel

Post Number: 23
Registered: 6-2008
Posted on Friday, Jul 23, 2010 - 4:08 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Digging up and old discussion here I know. I was wondering though about using a mixture of sand and peat as bedding in a run-in stall (free access 24/7). The peat is brilliant at binding the ammonia in the urine and eliminating urine smells.

We are building an entire new run-in building and the bottom of it will be gravel-sand-bricks and then whatever bedding we decide on. What I use now is peat first, let it pack down into a nice firm mattress, and then hemp on top of that.

Cheers, Lisa
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