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Which horse bedding harbors more bacteria?

Research reveals what bedding types have natural anti-bacterial properties.

Bedding made of shavings from Scots pine trees—a species native to Northern Europe but also found in the United States—is much less likely to harbor bacteria than are other common bedding types, according to a study from England.

Horse laying down in a bed of sawdust

Some types of shavings harbor more bacteria than others, according to research from England. 

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University introduced five bacterial strains, including Streptococcus equi—which causes strangles—to five different types of bedding: Scots pine shavings (Pinus sylvestris), Corsican pine shavings (Pinus nigra), Sitka spruce shavings (Picea sitchensis), hemp (Cannabis sativa) and chopped wheat straw. They then determined the viable colony count of each organism on each type of bedding, an indication of bacteria’s ability to survive and multiply in the environment.

Click here to learn the pros and cons of various types of horse beddings.

The data showed significantly less growth for all of the organisms in the Scots pine bedding. The researchers attribute this to the “anti-bacterial effects reported in the Pinacea family and the physical properties of the bedding substrate.”

Reference: “Reducing exposure to pathogens in the horse: A preliminary study into the survival of bacteria on a range of equine bedding types,” Journal of Applied Microbiology, September 2016

This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #471, December 2016.

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