Wood shavings are one of the most popular types of stall bedding used in the barn, but horse owners need to be aware of the varieties used to make their shavings as a few tree species are toxic to your animals.
The first variety of wood that people know not to use already is black walnut. Black walnut trees are native to the eastern US, but they can exist outside their native homes as well. Horses that stand in black walnut shavings are susceptible to laminitis within 24-48 hours. The good news is that black walnut shavings are a dark chocolate brown color and stands out in contrast to lighter colored tree varieties.
Several other tree species are also best avoided. Below is a quick list of the most commonly found in the United States.
Another good rule of thumb to use is to remember not to use any shavings from a tree that would be hazardous to your horses's health when ingested orally.
To ensure that your bedding is safe, always purchase from a reputable supplier that has ecxperience with horses and livestock in general. Do not ever buy shavings that can not be sourced back to a specific tree species. Avoid bedding from tree trimmers or carpentry shops. They can not ensure the tree varieites that were trimmed down, and they can not be sure that the lumber used wasn't treated.
If you ever have specific questions about toxic materials in your bedding, you should check with your local veterinarian or consult the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) 24-Hour Animal Poison Control Center hotline at 888-426-4435. There website is also available at www.aspca.org/Pet-care/poison-control.
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