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Stall Bedding Test: Pine Pellets vs. Corn Cob Pellets


Stall Bedding Test: Pine Pellets vs. Corn Cob Pellets
By Andrea Gilbert

Don’t you just hate to find out unexpectedly that your horse’s stall has been flooded – just when you need it the most and it’s cold out? One of several big rains during mid January really put a damper on things. I was preparing my horses’ stalls for a coming ice storm, when I found that my end stall had become the home to rain water, instead of our feisty little Arabian mare.

The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if this would be a good time to answer an age old question: what was better for drying out a stall, pine pellets or corn cobs? I called our local Tractor Supply Company (TSC) and asked them.  I was told that pine pellets were good, but did not get much information on corn cobs. So I decided to do the Soggy Stall test.

I went to TSC to get a 40 lb. bag of pine pellets and a 40 lb. bag of corn cob pellets. I have 12’ x 12’ stalls, so I decided to put pine on one half of the stall and corn cob on the other. I found that the corn cob pellets were smaller and spread smoother than the pine pellets, which were larger. I also got a bit more coverage out of the corn cob pellets and the coverage was more consistent. The pine pellets were harder to spread and coverage got spotty in some areas.  Plus, due to the length and slickness of the pine pellets, they can be slippery to walk on, whereas the corn cob pellets are more like walking on kitty litter and almost the same color. 

Pine pellets, without a doubt, smell fresher and have a very clean look to them, while the corn cob pellets have a very subtle smell, almost like stale oats. Personally, if I were a horse and had to lay with my nose on the floor, I would prefer the subtle smell of oats rather than the strong pine smell; but that’s a human’s opinion. I will probably put a little pine in with my corn cobs just for that fresh scent.

 I knew I would have to wait a bit to see which pellets would do a better absorbing job in the stall, so I got a ½ cup of both types of pellets and put them into a half cup of water to satisfy my curiosity. The corn cob pellets soaked the water up twice as fast, and became soft and powdery. The pine pellets took twice as long to absorb the water and were a bit abrasive. By the third morning, my stall test was complete. The floor was as dry as a bone, and, in the end, both types of pellets had done their job.

The corn cob side was a powdery, but not dusty to breathe, and soft to walk on. I noticed that my mare chose that area to sleep on at night. It made stall maintenance so much easier. Anything solid was easier to sift thru and anything liquid was immediately absorbed and contained, with no run off. 

Corn cob bedding is biodegradable and can be thrown in the compost for future use in the garden or flower beds. The pine pellets, on the other hand, have a warning label that says “wood dust causes cancer if inhaled.”

The price is comparable. A 40 lb. bag of pine pellets sells for about $ 5.99 and a 40 lb. bag of corn cob pellets sells for about $ 6.99. The directions on the bags may say that a 12 x12 stall takes 3-6 bags, but I found that 4 bags were sufficient for my stall. However, the amount of bedding required also depends on the habits of the individual living inside. My mare likes a tidy house; she’s not a big mess maker.

In conclusion, I will continue to use a little pine, but my hat’s off to the corn cob pellets! I recommend them for making stall life a little easier. I express great appreciation to Josh at the Somerville, TN TSC for the products supplied for this test.

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