The Effect of Management Regime on Airborne Respirable Dust Concentrations in Two Different Types of Horse Stable Design

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Airborne respirable dust (ARD) (<5 μm) in the stable environment is strongly implicated in equine asthma. Bedding, forage, ventilation rate, and stable management activities all contribute to ARD. This study investigated the relationship between ARD in the breathing zone (BZ) and the stable zone (SZ) in eight American barns (ABs) and eight stable complexes with individual stables under four different management regimes. Airborne respirable dust was measured in eight replicate stables per regime in ABs (n = 32) and eight per regime in single stables (n = 32). Regimes were as follows: (1) steamed hay and shavings; (2) dry hay and shavings; (3) haylage and straw; and (4) dry hay and straw. Samples were taken in quite periods between 3 PM and 4 PM hours. Airborne respirable dust levels were analyzed using Split-Plot analysis of variance and Wilcoxon matched-pairs test (Genstat 15) with P < .05 as significant. The lowest ARD (<360 RP/L air) was found for shavings and steamed hay in AB and single stables in both BZ and SZ. Straw and dry hay in ABs produced ARD of 6,250 (SZ), 5,079 RP/L air (BZ) which was greater (P < .05) than the 2,901 (SZ) and 942 (BZ) RP/L air in single stables. Straw and haylage produced more ARD across both zones in single stables compared with ABs. Shavings and dry hay = more dust in the BZ than in the SZ, whereas straw and haylage = higher ARD in the SZ versus the BZ across both stable designs. Using dry hay and/or straw cannot be recommended as a suitable management regime for stabled horses.

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