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One of my main passions in life are my horses. My cousin and I have a yard between us where we keep all of our horses and have a few stables which we rent out to liveries. At one point all our horses including the one's in the rented stables were on good old straw. However, as the years have gone on new forms of bedding have come onto the scene and the usual straw beds have started to disappear. Normally the reason for changing what bedding you use can be down to a medical problem which is a sensible reason for using something else.
My one horse can have problems with his respiratory system and can develop a cough especially in the summer when dust is rife. In order to combat this and make sure he can be comfortable instead of coughing constantly I decided to change from his straw bed to something else but the choice is vast. In the end I opted for Hemcore as apart from receiving great reviews it was suitable for horses needing a dust free environment.
*~* What is Hemcore? *~*
Hemcore is basically a bedding made for horses which uses the inner core of the hemp plant stem. The bedding is made to ensure the horse has a dust free environment as it can absorb moisture and ammonia leaving the bed cleaner, soft and comfortable for the horse. When out of its air tight packet it looked like a lot of small, chopped up pieces of thin straw but it is a lot softer to the touch but it still has that gold colour to it.
Hemcore is produced in the UK and the company do not use any bleach or chemicals in the manufacturing process, so technically it is a 'green' product. A great thing about Hemcore is that is can be recycled as it can be used as compost which I now use in my garden! Hemp is a sustainable product which is fast growing which helps when the demand for hemp is so high. The process to making Hemcore is simple as once it has been harvested it is dried, chopped, the dust is extracted and then it is packed into heat sealed, recyclable polythene bags - even more environmentally friendly!
*~* Hemcore Benefits *~*
~ Highly Absorbant ~
When horses are stabled the last thing you want them to do is stand in what is effectively their toilet for too long. Hemcore has an incredibly high absorbency rate which ensures that the bed is kept drier for longer. Because it is so absorbent, where the horse has actually gone to the toilet the area of Hemcore which you need to remove when mucking out is relatively small compared to that of a straw or shavings bed.
~ Comfort ~
Apart from obviously being soft Hemcore provides the horse with a lovely warm bed as it provides a good level of insulation which protects against the cold and can help with injuries and arthritis sufferers.
~ Dust ~
One thing I needed for my horse was a low dust bed and Hemcore provides this. Spores and dust are extracted in Hemcore during the manufacturing process which helps to provide a cleaner stable environment.
~ Bank Friendly ~
Having large horses meant that I did go through straw a lot which all adds up and using straw became quite expensive. With Hemcore I found it quite economical as you don't replace the bedding as much as you would with straw as you take less dirty bed out due to the absorbency. Although when you do use Hemcore for the first time it can be a little more expensive in order to get a new bed for your horse but once this initial outlay has happened then maintaining the Hemcore bed is relatively cheap. I use around 1 bale every 10 days which is a lot less than I would do with straw.
~ Odour ~
Because the Hemcore absorbs ammonia the stable odour disappears and you can barely notice anything which is great as ammonia can have harmful effects on both the horse and owner.
~ Disposal ~
As I said above I use Hemcore as my compost in the garden. Because you only take a small quantity out of the stable compared to straw the muck heap is incredibly small in comparison and it rots down quickly making it ideal for garden and vegetable patches.
~ Mucking Out ~
I have to muck out around 4 to 5 stables a day which when they were on straw beds it did take a good two hours as the stables are quite large and the beds quite thick on top of three of the horses being quite dirty. With Hemcore because the absorbency is so high there is a lot less dirty bedding to come out which saves me a lot more time. As long as the beds are kept clean then time isn't an issue for me anymore. It also helps that because any wetness doesn't leak anywhere or spread you can easily remove any wet bedding as it clumps up.
*~* How to use Hemcore *~*
When I purchased my bales of Hemcore to make the beds in the stables I did make sure I knew what to do with them as some bedding products require them to be used in a certain way and Hemcore is no different. To put down in a stable ensure it has been cleaned and emptied first if you want to use it with your current bedding just add a bit of Hemcore each time you muck out until eventually the whole bed is Hemcore.
1. Spread the Hemcore evenly in the stable. A typical 12'x12' stable will require around 8-10 bales to get an even, well covered bed. If you want banks up the side you will of course need more.
2. Once the Hemcore is down and you are happy with its thickness, gently pour 5 litres of water for every bale used over the Hemcore. Hemcore requires at least 3 hours to activate.
Hemcore is virtually unpalatable to all horses which is great as horses to tend to have a munch on straw beds if they get bored, hungry or are just overly greedy. If your horse does start to eat Hemcore just simply sprinkle it with a horse/pet/human safe discinfectant (mild solution) and hopefully they won't eat it! Horses who constantly eat their beds can sometimes end up getting colic, gastro-intestinal disorders which can lead to vets visits and cost a lot of money.
*~* My Opinion *~*
Well since first using Hemcore in one of my stables I now use it in all but one of my stables as I find it so effective. Apart from saving me money compared to using straw when it comes to mucking out it takes me a lot less time and effort which is great especially if your incredibly busy and need time to do other things. Two of my horses are quite dirty in their stables but now on Hemcore even though their beds are dirty because the wetness is compacted and in a smaller area I don't have to go searching for it making it easier to muck out and instead of taking two hours to do my stables it only takes me an hour especially as I'm not always topping up the beds whereas I did with straw. Every time I mucked out I would have to put more straw in. Even though the initial expensive with Hemcore is quite high especially if you have more than one horse you soon start to notice how much you are saving when using Hemcore compared to either straw or shavings. Hemcore is easily spread in the bed as once it is out its tightly packed packaging it soon breaks up into a soft bed for the horses. All of mine are happy on it and the horse that has a cough hasn't coughed as bad since I've started using Hemcore which is great for him.
*~* Packaging *~*
Hemcore comes in clear, see through polythene bags which have the blue logo on. Hemcore is coloured coded to blue as they do have other products. The polythese bags are recyclable. Because they come in compact, rectangular bales they are easy to store.
*~* Where to Buy *~*
Hemcore can be purchased throughout the UK are various distributors and it can also be purchased online. You do generally have to purchase a certain quantity although you can purchase individual bales should you need to. Hemcore come in 20kg bales and are priced at around £10 per bale - discounts do normally apply when buying a certain number of bales.
Definitely. If you want to save yourself time and money then this bedding is definitely worth it. Apart from being environmentally friendly it is great for horses with respiratory problems which is quite common in a lot of horses. So the initial expense can be a lot to start the stable off but the up keep is definitely minimal.