Is Sawdust Good for Horse Bedding? The Pros & Cons

There is a lot of debate surrounding the use of sawdust as horse bedding. Some people believe it can be harmful to horses.

While others mentioned if you are looking for horse bedding that absorbs urine, looks clean and available at a very affordable price then you should consider sawdust bedding.

In this article, I will discuss the pros and cons of using sawdust as horse bedding. I will also talk about similar bedding options and compare them to sawdust.

So without any further ado, let’s get started.

What exactly is sawdust?

Sawdust is a waste product that’s produced when the wood is cut or sanded. It’s composed of small pieces of wood that are left over after the bigger pieces have been used for something else.

Sawdust can be used for various works; the major use is particleboard. It is also used as packing material, as fuel, and of course as horse bedding.

The benefits of using sawdust as horse bedding

Here are the following benefits to consider when using sawdust for horse bedding:


One of the most important qualities of horse bedding is absorbency. Urine, sweat, and mud can make a horse’s stall or paddock messy and smelly.

If the bedding doesn’t absorb these liquids, it will create a pool of mud that can be harmful to the horse’s health.

Sawdust is an excellent absorbent material. It can absorb up to four times its weight in water. This means that it can quickly soak up urine, sweat, and mud, keeping the area clean and dry.

Another benefit of sawdust’s absorbent nature is that it can help control the environment in the stall.

Excess moisture can lead to mold and bacteria growth, which can cause respiratory problems in horses.

By absorbing moisture, sawdust can help create a drier and healthier environment.

Sawdust is also absorbent when it comes to spills and accidents. If your horse knocks over a bucket of water or kicks over their food, the sawdust will soak it up quickly.

Easy To Clean & Time Saving

Another advantage of sawdust is that it’s easy to clean. When the bedding gets soiled, you can simply scoop out the sawdust and replace it with a fresh one.

This is much easier than trying to clean other types of bedding, such as straw or shavings.

Cleaning sawdust is also much easier on your lungs than cleaning other types of bedding. When you breathe in straw or shavings, you can end up inhaling dust and other particles that can irritate your lungs.

But with sawdust, you don’t have to worry about this because it’s much finer.

Cost Saving

Sawdust is also one of the most inexpensive types of bedding you can buy. It’s usually very easy to find and it doesn’t cost very much. This makes it a great option for people who are on a budget.

Even sometimes you get it for free if you know someone working in a sawmill. And sometimes sawmill just wants to get rid of it and will give it away for free.

The drawbacks of using sawdust as horse bedding

However, there are also some disadvantages to using sawdust as horse bedding.

One of the biggest disadvantages of sawdust is that it can be dusty. When you walk into a stall that’s full of sawdust, you can end up breathing in a lot of dust. This dust can irritate your lungs and cause problems, especially if you have asthma or allergies.

Another issue with sawdust is some woods such as black walnut shavings are toxic to horses. So, you need to make sure you are using safe sawdust for your horse.

Depression, warm hooves, Stiff gait, and Reluctance to move are some of the signs your horse is reacting to toxic wood.

Sawdust can also be bad a bad option when it’s wet or there is no proper blockage of the wind. If the sawdust gets wet, it can turn into a muddy mess.

And if there’s a lot of wind, the sawdust can end up blowing into the horse’s face, which can irritate their eyes and lungs.

Despite the disadvantages, sawdust can still be a good option for horse bedding. Just make sure you are using safe and clean sawdust and that the stall is well-ventilated to avoid any problems.

How to decide if sawdust is the right bedding for your horse?

There are a few things to consider when deciding if sawdust is the right bedding for your horse.

The first is cost. Sawdust is usually one of the cheaper bedding options available.

The second is availability. If you live in an area with a lot of sawmills, you’ll likely have easy access to sawdust. However, if you live in an area with few sawmills, it may be more difficult to find.

The third is your horse’s health. If your horse has respiratory issues, you’ll want to avoid using sawdust as bedding.

But if you take all of these things into account, sawdust can be a great option for horse bedding. Just make sure you are using safe and clean sawdust and that the stall is well-ventilated to avoid any

Alternatives to sawdust for horse bedding

While sawdust is a popular choice for horse bedding, there are a few alternatives that you might want to consider.

Wood shavings are a common alternative to sawdust. They are absorbent and have a lower dust content than sawdust, making them easier on your horse’s respiratory system.

Straw is another common alternative. It is absorbent and has a high heat-to-weight ratio, making it easy to keep your horse’s stall warm in the winter.

However, straw is more difficult to clean up than sawdust and shavings, so it is important to consider how much time you are willing to spend cleaning your horse’s stall.

Among all pellet beddings, pine pellets are the most absorbent and have the lowest dust content. Pellets are also easy to store and transport, making them a convenient option for horse owners.

However, pellets are more expensive than sawdust and shavings, so you will need to decide if the convenience is worth the extra cost.

No matter what type of bedding you choose, it is important to clean your horse’s stall regularly to provide a safe and clean environment for your horse.


Do horses eat sawdust?

Horses will typically not eat sawdust unless they are hungry and there is nothing else for them to eat. However, if you have a horse that is prone to colic, you should not let them eat sawdust as it can cause an intestinal blockage.

Can you use any sawdust for horses?

The sawdust you use should be from a softwood tree such as pine or cedar. Hardwoods, like oak, can contain tannins that are toxic to horses.

You also want to avoid sawdust that has been treated with chemicals, like pressure-treated lumber.


Sawdust is absorbent and soft, which can help your horse stay comfortable. Sawdust is also relatively inexpensive compared to other bedding options.

However, there are also several cons to consider.

If you decide to use sawdust, be sure to check its cleanliness and whether the wood which is used is toxic-free. There are many alternatives to sawdust, so be sure to explore all your options before making a decision.

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