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Like I said in the nutrition post, this is such a great thing to have experts we can ask. I just started running my own facility with 20+ horses and I'm trying to do it the right way. I have worked at several barns in the area and each had different ideas. I try and always find out what the latest information is and base my decisions on that, rather than on what others do. In any case, I have worked at barns that bank up shavings and have a foot or more to clean through in the winter because they think it keeps horses warmer. Now that I have my own place, and see the cost of shavings, I'd like to find out if that is true and whether the amount of shavings should be different in the winter than in the summer. I live in the Midwest and it does get cold! Thanks!!!!
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Corinne, this is a solid question. My farm is in Northern Illinois so we go through some pretty cold days / nights during the winter. Banking shavings will definitely help avoid a horse getting cast in a stall and is a very traditional method of operation. It is more typical with a larger flake shaving that moves easily in the stall and combined with a deeper level it provides added safety.
As far as depth for warmth - with a larger flake that is indeed a good way to insulate from a cold floor. You can achieve this with a bed of smaller/finer flakes and when used properly the depth will remain pretty constant year round because the right depth for maximum control of moisture and absorbency should be sufficient for insulating from ground temperature. We maintain 4-5 inches of depth in our stalls year round and if hitting a serious cold spell will add an extra bag for added warmth. A foot is quite deep but, again another "traditional" method for some barns. Let me know if you have additional questions. Claire