The writer has employed saw-dust as bedding for the last eighteen years without having experienced any deleterious effects that could be ascribed to its use. It has been used solely on the grounds of economy. In large towns where there is a considerable supply of saw-dust the difference in the net cost, after making allowance for the difference in the manure, will be 9d. to Is. per horse per week, which in a stud of 400 horses means a sum of £800 to .£1000 per annum.
Many grooms and stablemen have at first a strong objection to sawdust; but after a time most lose this, and many seem to prefer it to straw, no doubt from the facts that it entails less work, that the coats of light-coloured horses are less liable to be stained when it is used, and that it is one of the best detergent agents for rubbing down horses' legs when muddy.
Drains are inadmissible where saw-dust or peat-moss is used, as they become blocked with dust or moss, and speedily become insanitary; but the absence of drains gives rise to no inconvenience, as the urine is readily absorbed in the dust or moss, and removed with the manure.
An objection to the use of saw-dust is based on the fact that some horses accustomed to a straw bed refuse, for a time at least, to lie down either on a saw-dust or a peat-moss bed; but this reluctance can generally be easily overcome by using at first a quantity of straw over the dust or moss, and subsequently gradually reducing the amount of straw.
A more real objection arises when horses are at rest in a loose-box, and allowed to stand on a considerable thickness of either dust or moss. There is a tendency to the generation of heat in a thick bed; and where this is allowed, the feet of any horse standing upon it for a length of time are more or less injured, the hoofs becoming brittle, hard, and dry. In the stalls of working horses the bedding is swept up against the stall divisions during the day and re-spread at night, and in this way all objectionable heat is driven away and its further production avoided. But here the injurious effect of the saw-dust upon wood, especially upon young wood, is very marked, and the wood of unprotected stall-divisions against which the dust lies is soon rotted away. This injury is easily prevented by extending the iron kicking-plate, usually attached to the stall-division, forward to the manger.
The quantity of saw-dust required to maintain a good bed is from a bag to a bag and half per horse per week.