Researchers at the University of Goettingen, Germany, have found that the levels of minute air particles and biogenic gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and ammonia vary widely depending on the bedding material used in a stable, and the cleaning routines employed. Kathrin Fleming PhD and her team carried out experiments in order to recommend how to improve an enclosed stable’s air quality. Throughout the experiments, the team measured air quality in an enclosed stable which had 5 single boxes housing 4 horses.
In the first experiment, the team compared the effect of using different bedding material on the amount of ammonia generated. They tested wheat straw, straw pellets and wood shavings, and found that ammonia concentrations were lowest when using wheat straw. The amount of the gas generated when using wood shavings was approximately 50% greater.
In the second experiment, the team measured the amount of ammonia generated and the the amount of minute air particles generated when wheat straw is used as a bedding material and three different mucking-out routines are employed. Mucking-out every day produced the most air particles and the most ammonia gas, where as there was less difference between partial mucking-out and no mucking-out at all.
The research is presented in a paper titled "Gas and particle concentrations in horse stables with individual boxes as a function of the bedding material and the mucking regime", published in the Journal of Animal Science. The paper’s authors concluded that wheat straw was the most suitable bedding to reduce air particles and ammonia gas, and that complete mucking-out on a daily basis was not recommended if maintaining air quality is important. In horses who suffer from respiratory problems these findings may have a welcome effect.