Wood pellets for energy and wood pellets for horse bedding – is there a difference?
Wood pellets are becoming increasingly popular for use as an economical, time-saving and absorbent bedding for horses. Hours of mucking out time can be saved with their use with or without rubber mats.
But like flour, sugar and milk they are a commodity and, to some people, a wood pellet is a wood pellet no matter where it comes from or whatever it is made out of.
There are more and more wood pellets coming on to the market as cheap European imports flood the internet and become available in the UK.
But did you know that there are currently only seven wood pellet factories in the UK and the bulk of sales from these plants go to the energy market. The companies that own these factories know that their pellets can work as stable bedding too.
As a result, most companies market their energy pellets as horse bedding. Some have specialist brands while others sell their standard pellets as bedding.
For a wood pellet to burn efficiently it needs a high ‘bulk density’ – in other words, it should have little or no moisture in its content. This makes it extremely hard. During the pellet-making process, wood is cooked, compressed and held together by the natural resins in the wood. An energy pellet will have a bulk density of around 650.
But a wood pellet for horse bedding should be a little softer and have a lower density of preferably 600.This allows the pellet to break down more easily when it is ‘activated’ with water.
Knowing the source of the wood in your pellet bed is increasingly important. Cheap imports can be made from just compressed sawdust which makes the pellet bedding highly dusty once it’s broken down. And some pellets are made using extremely high temperatures making the finished pellet brittle, dark and ultimately dusty.
Sorbeo Horse Bedding says:
‘What the wood pellet is made from is highly important. Some woods are a lot harder than others and as a result are far less absorbent – and if they are cooked at too high a temperature they become very dusty as they break down. Sorbeo uses spruce pine from sustainable Scottish forests – which is the best for horse bedding… it is soft, highly absorbent and very pale in colour – spruce also has naturally antiseptic qualities which is ideal for horses with foot problems. We slowly roast our wood over a number of days using wood pellet boilers and the wood we take away from the forest we replace.’
So when you buy – ask questions about the wood source. If your supplier doesn’t know the answer then you should be wary.