Cost of Wood Shavings Increasing as Housing Market Falls

A downturn in the housing industry is being blamed for a shortage of equine shavings that has resulted in sharp price increases and changes in the methods some owners use to manage their horses.

"The cost of shavings has increased by 70% in the past two years," noted halter horse trainer Ted Turner of Turner Ranch in Aubrey, Texas. He said he has been forced to pass the increased cost on to his clients.

Wood and sawdust that are created as byproducts of new home construction are in shorter supply, causing equine bedding manufacturers to scramble for raw materials. Seasonal factors also are affecting supply and demand this winter, said Rich Whiting, vice president of sales for American Wood Fibers, based in Columbia, Md.

"In any given year, demand (for shavings) goes down in the summer, but supply of the raw material is up. In the winter, our clients need more shavings, but the raw material is at its lowest level," Whiting noted.

Because of their weight, shavings are freight-sensitive. If the manufacturer has to ship them very far, the price quickly becomes prohibitive, Whiting said: "It all depends on how far you live from the trees."

Turner noted that as long as he’s been able to pay the price, his feed supplier has been able to get the shavings he needs. However, horsekeepers who are not as able to pass on the additional cost are struggling to cope.

"We're skimping and not bedding as well as we used to. We're just trying to be extremely conservative," Phyllis Elliott told Jason Schreiber of The New Hampshire Union Leader. According to Schreiber's report, Elliott cares for 25 horses at her Hidden Pond Farm in Brentwood, N.H.

Horse welfare organizations, already struggling with rising hay prices, are also likely to feel the shavings pinch.

"We’re using straw and very few shavings," noted a spokesman for Ryerrs' Farm for Aged Equines, Pottstown, Pa.

About the Author

Judith Lee

Judith Lee is a freelance health care writer who has written for a number of medical and health care journals and health care companies. As a long-time equestrian and horse owner, she has a particular interest in equine health care. She also operates an equestrian education program, Riding for Fun, geared toward adult beginners and returning riders.

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