Stable Mats Pros and Cons
Stable mats have become more and more common in many barns throughout Ireland, and this is because they provide a unique level of comfort and safety for horses to walk, lay, and perform comfort activities, like grooming. There’s a common misconception that mats are made to replace bedding, which simply isn’t true, as stable mats work in tandem with straw or wood chips to provide another layer of comfort and increase grip on the floors of your stables. Both rubber and foam mats have unique advantages, which straw alone can’t provide. In this article, we will discuss:
- Types of bedding options available
- The advantages of stall mats
- The disadvantages of stall mats
Common types of bedding options available
Bedding’s primary use is to provide a layer of protection between your horses’ hooves and hard stall floors. The best types of bedding provide a level of compressibility, so that your horse isn’t feeling the pressure of a hard floor on their joints and feet when standing. Check out this list below of the common types of bedding, and you’ll see the advantages and disadvantages of each:
Straw is one of thecheapest forms of bedding available to most farmers. It also has a soft nature, and can be piled on top of a floor to create a deep bed.
Easy to grow, straw can be cultivated in your fields and brought in for animal beds. It also has insulating properties, which can help you to keep your horses warm even during cold winter conditions.
- Advantages: It is cheap and easy to grow, and makes great beds.
- Disadvantages: Straw is dusty, and also can be eaten by your horses. It also has a tendency to shift, creating gaps which cows and horses fall through to the ground.
Wood shavings are also a readily available form of floor covering which you can easily pick up from farm supply companies or even from a local sawmill or cabinetmaker’s shop.
- Advantages: Wood chips are one of the best materials because it is incredibly absorbent, whilst it also sweeps up fairly easily.
- Disadvantages: It can be dusty, as fine sawdust can be mixed in with the wood shavings. Horses have a tendancy to kick up dust with their feet. If you use them as a form of matting, examine the product before purchasing to check to see that you are getting a bag that is mostly full of chips rather than dust.
Another material used for beds that is readily available is paper. Newspapers, recycling, and other scrap paper can be used as bedding for animals.
- Advantages: Not dusty and easy to lay.
- Disadvantages: It can get damp which can be difficult to clean up.
Sand is also frequently used as a form of bedding, and this is because of its availability. Also, studies have shown that sand bedding causes less mastitis, and this is because sand is not an organic and cannot absorb as much as straw.
- Advantages: Sand has some antimicrobial qualities.
- Disadvantages: cows have a tendency to kick sand out of the stall, and they can kick up to 25 kg of sand out of the stall in the day. This may add more cleaning time for you.
Stable mats pros and cons
Stall mats can make a world of difference to the animals in your care, as they provide traction, comfort, and offer a place for them to rest.
While some bedding can become slippery when wet, rubber flooring holds up well in cold and wet conditions. Remember, you will still need additional bedding to place on top of stable mats.
Advantages of stable mats
Let’s look at the main advantages of stall mats:
Easy to clean
Stall mats are made from materials which are nonporous, and can be easily cleaned with a mild detergent or sterilized with a disinfectant. Compared to wood or straw, rubber can be easily cleaned. Just hose down the stables with a pressure washer to lift organic materials.
Rubber holds up especially well in wet conditions, preventing against slips and trips, and allowing animals to walk with ease. In fact, animals who walk on rubber mats are less likely to be hurt from falls or slips. Depending on the surface texture, rubber mats with a stud dot surface offer an increased level of traction.
Concrete floors are unyielding and can cause serious injuries to horses that rest on them. In fact, cows that rest on rubber mats are less likely to suffer from joint pain and are also more likely to lie down and rest. A well-rested cow is a productive cow.
Urine pools on concrete floors, but with rubber mats that have drainage furrows, moisture has a place to go and not pool underneath.
Save on bedding costs
By putting down rubber mats, you can use less bedding, saving you up to 25% of your costs. Just a light sprinkling of wood chips to collect urine is all you need for your horse’s stall. You can also limit the amount of labour that you have to do when cleaning out your stables, and labour costs directly translate to more money in your pocket.
Disadvantages of stall mats
Stall mats have become increasingly popular, but there are still some farmers who are undecided on whether to spend a significant amount of money on rubber mats. Let’s examine some of the major disadvantages of stall mats.
Stall mats are a significant investment for any farmer to make. However, as noted above, stable mats pay for themselves within five years, as they reduce the costs by up to 25% and limit the amount of injuries caused to animals.
Also, urine and water have a tendency to pool underneath rubber mats that don’t have adequate drainage features, like drainage furrows. You’ll need to frequently pull up the mats and clean underneath of them to make sure that you’ve cleaned out any bacteria, mould, and other organic material that seeped in between the cracks of the mats.
Purchasing rubber matting for your stables can significantly reduce costs, whilst also providing a greater quality of life for the animals in your care. It is a significant investment to purchase rubber mats, however, that investment will pay for itself several times over. Both rubber materials and foam mats are durable, able to withstand heavy pressures from large animals, and will last for decades. If you have any questions about what type of mat to purchase, contact us through the chat button in the right corner of your screen or find other ways on our “Contact Us” page or visit our hompage.
Author: David Van Kooten