Struggling with the Wood Pellet Shortage

Bloged in General by admin Monday February 5, 2007

If you didn’t think that a simple thing like keeping your
stalled horse comfortable on clean bedding was could be
affected by the oil price increases of the past four
years, think again.

Those of you who have been using wood pellet bedding to
replace plant material know exactly what I am talking
about. And the reason you are having hard time finding
bedding is that wood-pellet stoves, as a means of home
heating, have soared in popularity since 2004.

With heating oil and natural gas prices skyrocketing,
people have looked for alternate fuels, and wood pellets
were among their top choices. The Europeans, in fact,
have used wood-pellet stoves for decades, and the Canadian
wood pellet industry signed contracts, which are still in
force, to supply the European market back in 1999.

They had no idea that the North American demand would
climb the way it has, and in spite of a 35% increase in
wood pellet production in 2006, are still scrambling to
keep up.

The slow-down in the home construction market also means
that there less scrap lumber and sawdust are available for
the pelleting mills To make matters worse, in January,
Bear Mountain Forest Products of Oregon, which produces
110,000 tons of wood pellets annually, lost 20% of its
inventory in a fire.

In the meantime, those retailers who still have wood
pellets available have raised their prices, on average,
from $3.99 to $5.99 per 40-lb. bag.

So if you have been keeping your equine friends happy and
clean on marvelously absorbent wood pellets, and also
found that the pellet/ manure combination makes excellent
compost, you may feeling frustrated at the thought of
having to find a substitute. But don’t expect the
shortage to end any time soon.

But you can cut back on the amounts of wood pellets, or
whatever bedding you have been putting down, if you first
invest in rubber matting for your stall. While its
initial cost can seem steep, it will dramatically decrease
your ongoing bedding expenses.

Besides being warm and free of dust and debris, and
draining exceptionally well, rubber matting provides
enough of a cushion that you can decrease the amount of
bedding necessary to give your horse a warm soft
“lying-about” spot.

No matter what you are using, you will save yourself and
your horse a lot of grief if you remove all the wet
bedding at least once a day; otherwise you are inviting
bacteria to establish themselves and your horse’s feet will
be open season; never mind getting knocked over from the
ammonia odors when you enter the stable.

And if the bedding shortage has made you decide to winter
your horse outside for the time being, remember that it
would be happier, if your temperatures drop below 20F,
with a well-fitting blanket. Provide protection from
wind and moisture, whether it be from a planting of trees
or a simple shed.

The wood pellet shortage may cause you to make changes in
your horse’s bedding, but whatever you use, comfort and
cleanliness will go a very long way to giving you a happy,
healthy, and eager-to-perform companion!

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