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Quality of different bedding materials and their influence on the compostability of horse manure

Authors:
  • Equine Information Centre, Kuopio, Finland

Abstract and Figures

The air quality of the stable and management and composting of manure can be improved by choosing bedding material with certain desirable properties. The optimal bedding material doesn't cause hygiene problems in the stable. It absorbs ammonia, is economic in use, and decomposes quickly with manure. The objective of this trial was to compare both quality of different bedding materials and their influence on the composting process of horse manure. Bedding materials used in the study were wood chips, straw, peat, hemp, linen, sawdust, shredded newspaper and the mixtures, peat/wood chips, peat/sawdust, and peat/straw. Peat and peat mixtures had the best quality of ammonia absorption, water holding, and manure fertilization value. The number of fungi and bacteria were lower in shredded newspaper and wooden materials than in straw, linen, hemp, and peat. The composting temperature became high enough for at least a partial destruction of parasites and seeds within the rubbish heaps in all boxes. Only peat manure was ready for further plant production after one month's composting period. Other bedding materials were decomposed only partially or not at all during the study.
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Volume 21, Number 3, 2001 125
SUMMARY
The air quality of the stable and management and
composting of manure can be improved by choosing bedding
material with certain desirable properties. The optimal
bedding material doesn’t cause hygiene problems in the stable.
It absorbs ammonia, is economic in use, and decomposes
quickly with manure. The objective of this trial was to
compare both quality of different bedding materials and
their inuence on the composting process of horse manure.
Bedding materials used in the study were wood chips, straw,
peat, hemp, linen, sawdust, shredded newspaper and the
mixtures, peat/wood chips, peat/sawdust, and peat/straw.
Peat and peat mixtures had the best quality of ammonia
absorption, water holding, and manure fertilization value.
The number of fungi and bacteria were lower in shredded
newspaper and wooden materials than in straw, linen, hemp,
and peat. The composting temperature became high enough
for at least a partial destruction of parasites and seeds within
the rubbish heaps in all boxes. Only peat manure was ready
for further plant production after one month’s composting
period. Other bedding materials were decomposed only
partially or not at all during the study.
INTRODUCTION
Problems with stable hygiene may often be linked with
bedding material used in the stable. Bedding has effects on
indoor air, and the volume and quality of manure removed
from the box stall. In Nordic climates, the storage of manure
must be done for up to nine months of the year, resulting in
high storage and disposal costs. The whole chain of manure
to eld should be done so that utilization of manure can be
environmentally accepted.
Ammonium gas, dust and biological aerosols reduce
the quality of indoor air and increase the possibility of
respiratory diseases. Bedding is known as a major source
of fungal spores along with hay in the stable.1 Straw may
contain greater respirable dust than wood shavings, paper,2
and sawdust.3 The ammonia concentration in indoor air
depends on the quality and amount4 of bedding material and
manure management conditions.5, 6, 7
A good manure management system is hygienic, easy
to accomplish technically, economical and without negative
environmental effects. Manure should be able to be exploited;
for example, as a fertilizer or soil improvement material after
treatment and storage. Because of constrains on the storage
capacity for manure, the time used for manure treatment and
storage should be as short as possible. Bedding materials
such as recycled phone book paper, sawdust, and straw
have been noticed to decompose poorly during two months’
composting process.8 Differences have been found in the
process temperatures during composting of dirty phone book
paper, sawdust, straw, and wood shavings, which may affect
the hygiene of the compost product.8, 9
The purpose of this study was to study how different
kinds of bedding materials inuence stable hygiene and
composting of horse manure.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Ten bedding materials used in the study were, wood
chips, straw, sphagnum peat, hemp, linen, sawdust, shredded
newspaper and mixtures (3:1), peat/wood chips, peat/sawdust,
Refereed
QUALITY OF DIFFERENT BEDDING MATERIALS AND THEIR INFLUENCE
ON THE COMPOSTABILITY OF HORSE MANURE
S. Airaksinen, MSc1; H. Heinonen-Tanski, PhD2; M-L. Heiskanen, PhD1
Authors’ addresses: 1Equine Information Centre, Hingunniementie 98,
FIN-74700 Kiuruvesi, Finland. 2Department of Environmental Sciences,
University of Kuopio, PO Box 1627, FIN-70211 Kuopio, Finland.
Acknowledgements: The authors are most grateful for the support during this
work given by the Horse College of Kiuruvesi and professor Pekka Mäenpää
from the University of Kuopio.
JOURNAL OF EQUINE VETERINARY SCIENCE126
and peat/straw. Straw used was cut up to 10 cm strips
for the mixtures.
The main qualities of ammonia absorption, water
holding capacity and hygienic quality of bedding material
were studied with wood chips, straw, peat, hemp, linen,
sawdust, and shredded newsprint paper. The statistical
treatments for the qualities of ammonia absorption and
water holding capacity were done with the non-parametric
Kruskal-Wallis Test.
Materials mentioned above were used in a bedding
study in a stable with 16 horses. Each bedding material was
tested with four horses. The manure produced in bedding
was collected into the composting boxes. Both studies were
conducted during two periods, rst in July 26 – Sept. 3 1998
and second in Oct. 2 – Nov. 5 1998. Outdoor temperature
during those studies is shown in Fig. 2 and Fig. 3.
Ammonia absorption and water holding capacity
Ammonia absorption capacity was measured with Dräger
diffusion tubes (NH3 20/a-D)a placed in a plastic bag including
200 ml bedding material (measured with loose bedding) and
800 ml fresh horse urine. Measurement (n=2) was done after
two hours’ incubation at +17.4oC. Total concentration of
ammonia in the plastic bag was measured with 0.8 dl of pure
horse urine (n=2). Ammonia absorption capacity of bedding
material was calculated by the following equation:
(T-c/t)
A= ---------- *100%, where
T
A= absorption capacity of material (%),
T= total concentration of ammonia in a plastic bag with
pure horse urine (ppm/h),
c= concentration of ammonia in a plastic bag with bedding
material and urine (ppm), and
t= time of incubation (h).
Water holding capacity of bedding material was measured
in a barrel with strainer bottom (V=10 liters). The barrel was
placed on a larger collecting vessel. One liter of bedding
material and two liters of water were added to the barrel,
and the water passing through the strainer was collected
and measured one hour later (n=3). Water was added to
the barrel by pouring it from a can. Bedding material was
wet before straining was started. Measurements were done
at room temperature.
Hygiene quality of bedding materials
Hygiene analyses of bedding materials were done by
Kuopio Regional Institute of Occupational Health.b Microbes
(mesophilic fungi, xerophilic fungi, thermotolerant fungi,
mesophilic bacteria and thermophilic actinomycetes) were
determined with ve growth media. Numbers of colony
forming units (cfu) were counted after incubation and
identied microscopically.
Management and composting
The box stalls (about 3x3 m2 each) were cleaned daily
during the bedding study. Feces and bedding with urine were
removed into the composting boxes during a week. Removal
of clean bedding was avoided.
Composting in a wooden box with a cover (1 m3) (Fig.
1) and fertilization value after composting were studied
from manure with wood chips, long straw, peat, hemp,
shredded newspaper, peat/wood chips, peat/sawdust, and
peat/straw.
After a one-week period of manure collection, measure-
ment of temperatures from the composting mass was started.
Temperature was measured once a day (in the morning)
for 34-35 days. Measurements were done in depths of 10
cm, 22 cm (n=4) and 30 cm (n=2) from the top of the
composting mass.
Samples for nutrient analysis were collected from a depth
of 10 20 cm from the top of the composting mass zero days,
three weeks, and six weeks after starting the composting
study. The total potassium, total phosphorus, soluble nitrogen,
dry matter, and content weight (kg/m3) of the bedding manure
were analyzed by Soil Analysis Service.c
Biological activity of the composting mass, including
the number of mold colonies, formation of mushrooms
and ies was visualized daily. The number and vitality of
rubbish heap seeds in composted manure was studied with
a simple germination test, where bedding manure samples
after different times of composting were taken into the room
temperature, seeded and moisturized for ten days.
After 27 or 28 days of composting the masses were
turned totally upside down. That was done to avoid the
further decrease of the composting temperature caused by the
lack of oxygen or moisture in the mass.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
There were signicant differences in ammonia absorption
Figure 1. Composting boxes with open covers.
Volume 21, Number 3, 2001 127
capacity and water holding capacity in studied bedding
materials (Table 1b). Peat absorbed all released ammonia
gas with the relative absorption capacity of 100%. The good
ammonia absorption capacity is similar to earlier ndings.4
The relative ammonia absorption capacity of wood chips
was 44%. The same value for long straw was only 4%. Linen
was the second best with the relative absorption capacity
76%, better than both sawdust and shredded newspaper
(Table 1a). Signicance of ammonia absorption capacity
of bedding material may rise when indoor temperature
in stable increases.
The water holding capacity was best for sawdust and
sphagnum peat. Bedding requirement for ten liters holding
was 9.7 liters sawdust and 14.7 liters peat. As expected,
long straw had the lowest holding capacity; 66.7 liters of
straw was needed for holding 10 liters of water. Detailed
results of bedding materials’ water holding capacity are
shown in Table 1a.
Wood materials contained lower amounts of microbes
than materials made of plant materials (Table 2). The ndings
agree with those of Clarke1 and Kotimaa et. al.3 Hygienic
quality of straw, linen and hemp may depend on weather during
harvest, method of harvesting (e.g. warm air drying), and
preservation. According to earlier ndings the microbes of peat
may contain only a few main species of fungi,4 but we found
fungi belonging to many different groups.
The manure with dirty straw was noticed to result in
about twice as much volume as manure with other bedding
materials. Total volume of dirty straw manure for one year
was calculated to be 19.5 m3. Manure with hemp and peat
bedding was calculated to produce only 9.1 m3 per year (Table
3). If more clean bedding material were removed during the
cleaning of box stalls, the amount of produced bedding manure
would increase from the values of Table 3. The amount of
removed bedding manure was similar to the amount of bedding
material used in the stable.
Shredded newspaper and straw didn’t emit any dust when
used in the box. The dust problem of hemp could be eliminated
Table 1a. Relative ammonia and water holding capacity of different bedding materials
Bedding Material Relative ammonia absorption at Water holding capacity (1 of bedding/capacity at
+17.4°C (%) 10 liter of water) at room temperature
Mean (n=3) Std. Deviation Mean (n=3) Stardard Deviation
(n=3) (n=3
Peat moss 100 0 14.8 0.97
Linen 76 0 19.0 1.40
Sawdust 64 0 9.7 0.28
Hemp 60 0 22.5 0.53
Shredded newspaper 52 0 27.2 3.43
Wood chips 44 11.1 31.9 3.72
Straw 4 11.3 69.7 10.01
Total 22.4 27.8 19.23
Table 1b. Test statisticsa,b,c in ammonia absorption capacity and water holding capacity.
Relative ammonia absorption Water holding capacity
capacity at +17.4°C
Chi-Square 12.855 19.498
df 6 6
Asymp. Sig. 0.045 0.003
Exact Sig. <0.0005 <0.0005c
aKruskal-Wallis Test
bGrouping variable: Bedding material
cBased on 10000 sampled tables with starting seed 2000000.
Table 2. Number of microbes and fungi in bedding materials.
Bedding Mesophilic Xerophilic Thermotolerant Mesophilic Thermophilic
material fungi (cfµ/g) fungi (cfµ/g) fungi (cfµ/g) bacteria (cfµ/g) actinomycetes (cfµ/g)
Peat 1*105 -2*108 2*105-3*106 0-9*105 5*104-1*108
Linen 6*105-1*107 5*105-1*107 3*104-1*106 7*107-2*108 1*106-6*107
Hemp 1*105-9*105 5*105-8*105 0-5*102 6*105-9*106 8*103-1*104
Straw 4*105-1*106 3*105-1*106 1*107-1*109 0-3*102
Wood chips 2*105-3*106 2*105-2*106 4* 102-4*103 5*103-6*106 0-2*103
Sawdust 1*104-4*104 4*102-3*103 0-1*102 4*104-3*106
Shredded 0-1*102 1*102-3*102 2*104-4*104 0-1*102
newspaper
JOURNAL OF EQUINE VETERINARY SCIENCE128
with water addition as advised in the label of the package.
Wood chips made some dust at the time spread into the box
stall. The peat used in this study was quite dusty. Peat dust
could be found in the stall as late as a week after it was
furnished with new bedding material. Dust from peat bedding
was seen as a signicant disadvantage in bedding materials’
properties because of the increased risk of respiratory
irritation in horses and personnel. The quality of peat used in
the study was also heterogeneous. Removal of dirty bedding
was easiest and quickest with the bedding materials peat and
hemp. Removal of dirty wood chips, shredded newspaper,
and straw took more time because of difculties in separation
of clean and dirty bedding material.
Composting of bedding manure started quite quickly in
every box despite the lower outdoor temperature during the
latter period. Temperature of the composting mass was higher
than +20 oC during the rst 2 – 3 weeks, and declined then to
the level of outdoor temperature. There were no remarkable
differences between the temperature curves of composting
boxes in the depths of 10, 22 and 30 cm indicating that the
microbial activity was as high in all these layers. Temperature
values during composting process in the depth of 22 cm are
shown in Fig. 2 and Fig. 3.
No great increase of temperature was noticed after
Figure 2. Composting study in July 26-August 30, 1998.
Mass temperature in the depth of 22 cm.
Figure 3. Composting study in October 2 - November 5,
1998. Mass temperature in the depth of 22 cm.
Figure 4. (left) The s ol uble
nitrogen (kg/m3) in the bedding
manure materials after three
weeks of composting.
Table 3. Annual amount of produced bedding manure per
horse when different bedding materials are used.
Bedding Bedding
material manure/horse/year (m3)
Hemp 9.1
Peat/wood chips (3:1) 9.1
Peat 9.8
Peat/straw (3:1) 11.7
Shredded newspaper 11.7
Peat/sawdust (3:1) 12.4
Wood chips 12.4
Long straw 19.5
Volume 21, Number 3, 2001 129
for ammonia emissions in air.
The content of phosphorus and potassium were quite
unchanged during storage of manure (Table 4). Differences
in the content of those main nutrients may be explained
by feeding.
Fungal fruiting bodies’ growth occurred into all bedding
manure materials after about one week of composting.
The number of ies ying on top of the composting mass
was not abnormally high. According to germination tests
the seeds of rubbish heaps from manure were destroyed
during composting.
CONCLUSION
The results of this study showed that there are differences
between the properties of bedding materials. Air quality in
the stable, and utilization of manure can be improved, and
emissions to the environment and storage problems can be
reduced by selecting a good bedding material.
Peat was found to have the best qualities as ammonia
absorbent, water absorbent, and soluble nitrogen container.
Cleaning was quickest and easiest when the bedding material
was peat, peat mixture, or hemp. The weaknesses of peat were
heterogeneous quality, dark color, and dust. Peat moss has
turning composting masses upside down on Day 27 or 28.
The lack of oxygen can’t therefore be the only reason for the
decreasing biological activity of the composting mass. After
three weeks of storage in the composting box the mass was
dry especially with the bedding materials hemp, straw,
wood chips, and shredded newspaper. After a month’s
composting period a large amount of horse manure had
crumbled and decomposed to smaller particles while the
bedding material had kept almost unchanged. Limiting
factors of composting after three weeks’ composting period
may have been moisture, oxygen content, and concentration
of soluble nitrogen in the mass. The selection of a right
bedding material is meaningful for utilization of composted
horse manure. Undecomposable bedding material may still
absorb soluble nitrogen from the soil which could mean very
low fertilization effect in the worst case.
There were some differences in the content of soluble
nitrogen in composted bedding manure (Fig. 4). The relative
content of soluble nitrogen was highest in peat manure
(100%) and lowest in hemp manure (23%) after three
weeks of composting. Differences in soluble nitrogen being
preserved could be explained by the ammonia absorption
capacity of the bedding materials. Ammonia emissions during
manure storage were lower from peat moss manure than
manure with wood chips or straw, which may be important
Table 4. The content of phosphorus and potassium in horse manure with a different bedding material and a
function of storage.
Bedding material with manure Time of Total P, Total K, Dry Total content
storage, weeks kg/m3 kg/m3 matter, % weight, kg/m3
Wood chips 0 0.64 2.2 27.0 480
3 0.65 2.2 34.0 330
6 0.70 3.4 33.3 410
Peat 0 0.27 4.4 23.7 600
3 0.51 3.7 28.9 400
6 0.56 3.6 30.3 460
Straw 0 0.14 1.3 36.8 170
3 0.37 2.6 16.5 470
6 0.36 2.1 29.8 270
Shredded newspaper 0 0.54 1.2 32.5 410
3 0.98 2.3 22.7 650
6 0.74 1.7 26.5 500
Hemp 0 0.58 1.2 35.3 340
3 0.26 0.92 18.8 440
6 0.49 1.8 34.4 340
Peat/Wood chips (3:1) 0 0.64 1.8 28.8 440
3 0.58 2.3 32.5 330
6 0.76 3.0 28.1 490
Peat/Straw 3:1) 0 0.43 0.89 28.9 410
3 0.40 1.1 26.7 370
6 0.62 1.2 36.0 400
Peat/Sawdust 3:1) 0 1.1 1.5 26.4 440
3 0.64 3.6 40.3 360
6 0.72 3.2 33.5 500
JOURNAL OF EQUINE VETERINARY SCIENCE130
also been blamed for making wet horses dirty. The content
of dust decreased with water addition. Dust of peat bedding
may also be controlled by choosing a good peat type like
peat from Sphagnum fuscum.
Peat producers should pay special attention to providing
a homogeneous and dustless bedding product for horses. A
customer is not interested in a product which might expose
horses and the personnel to dust and the possibility of
respiratory diseases even if the other properties are excellent.
Good bedding peat has been reported to contain lower
amounts of microorganisms than straw or wood shavings.4
Using woody or other bedding materials as a thin surface
layer on peat litter could decrease the dust problem. On the
other hand a straw, wood chips, or hemp layer would increase
light in a box and improve the structure of bedding manure
being composted. Both ammonia and water absorption and
containing capacity of soluble nitrogen were poor in pure
straw. Also the high content of microbes3 decreases the value
of straw as a hygienic bedding material for horses.
Horse manure composted quite well within a month in a
closed composting box in the current study. Contrary to earlier
ndings8 there were no great differences in temperature
development between the bedding materials during the
composting study. According to the results of Moncol9 the
temperature in all composting boxes of this study became high
enough to destroy most of the potential strongyle ovae and
larvae. Temperature development of the mass in the beginning
of the composting process depends on the ratio of bedding
to manure. Horse manure itself has an excellent carbon to
nitrogen ratio for composting (about 25:1).
In agreement with Swinker et. al.,8 management practices
of bedding manure inuence composting and utilization of
horse manure. Pure manure may decompose and become
hygienic in a month if the amount of bedding is small enough
and the circumstances for composting are good. After that the
addition of urine and control of temperature and contents of
oxygen and moisture of compost are mostly needed because
of the decomposing of bedding material.
Only manure with peat bedding was ready for utilization
after one month’s composting period. Other bedding materials
were decomposed only to a small extent or not at all in
the composting boxes.
It is possible by optimization of bedding systems to
control both hygiene and environmental problems and
expenses caused by manure management and storage. It is
economically reasonable to bed horses’ box stalls with a
material which is both hygienic and efcient in ammonia
and water absorption capacities. Time for cleaning and
re-bedding decreases and the amount of bedding manure
needing storage is reduced. Using bedding material which
composts readily also reduces the likelihood of dumping
used bedding in urban dump sites.
FOOTNOTES
aLiitin Oy, P.O. Box 33, 00391 Helsinki, Finland
bKuopio Regional Institute of Occupational Health, P.O. Box 93, 70210
Kuopio, Finland
cSoil Analysis Service, P.O.Box 500, 50101 Mikkeli, Finland
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Figure 5. Scanning electron microscopy photograph on
the structure of peat.
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Intensive pastoral farming has been linked to adverse environmental effects such as soil degradation and increased fluxes of nitrogen, phosphorus, sediments, and pathogens into waterways, resulting in their degradation. Stand-off pads are engineered structures covered with bedding materials, available for occupation by stock to minimise those adverse effects to soil and water bodies. Wood chips are ideal for bedding due to their low cost, high water holding capacity, and stock preference as resting areas. While they reduce the mobility of both nutrients and pathogens, their effectiveness depends on the type of wood, size of the chips, pH, pad design, and feeding management used. Dissolved organic carbon, present in wood residue, may slow nitrogen mineralisation thereby decreasing loss via leachate. This effect depends on plant tannins and nutrients already stored within the plant tissue. Poplar and willow have high concentrations of tannins in leaves and bark with potential nitrification-inhibiting properties. When grown on-farm, these deep-rooted trees also reduce nitrogen leaching and prevent soil erosion. This review addresses the use of temporary stand-off pads within poplar or willow silvopastoral systems. Harvested trees can provide suitable wood chips for constructing the stand-off pad, while the deep rooting systems of the trees will reduce the moisture content of the pad, preventing waterlogging. A key objective is to discuss the feasibility and establishment of multiple temporary stand-off pads that allow for stock rotation from pad to pad, and subsequent on-site composting of wood-wastes into fertiliser, reducing both nutrient inputs and losses in agricultural systems. The review highlights the potential suitability of poplar and willow tree species for such a system.
... The T4 presented the smallest weekly averages and overall average during the two steps: pre-composting and composting ( Figure 2). The results (Figure 1) are in line with Airaksinen et al. (2001) who working with composting of different equine bedding, found that in the first 15 days of the process every windrows reached high temperatures (in excess of 50°C). Sanchuki et al. (2011) observed the same maximum 50°C during the first five days of poultry litter traditional composting process. ...
... The T4 presented the smallest weekly averages and overall average during the two steps: pre-composting and composting ( Figure 2). The results (Figure 1) are in line with Airaksinen et al. (2001) who working with composting of different equine bedding, found that in the first 15 days of the process every windrows reached high temperatures (in excess of 50°C). Sanchuki et al. (2011) observed the same maximum 50°C during the first five days of poultry litter traditional composting process. ...
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... Alternative explanations are also possible, including hygienic quality. Straw is known to be at risk of low hygienic quality, i.e., contain fungi, mesophilic bacteria and actinomycetes which are associated with health problems [6,12,13]. Straw batches collected from horse stables may contain significant amounts of microbes, mycotoxins (e.g., deoxynivalenol) and lipopolysaccharides [13]. Little is known about how such factors affect the long term gastrointestinal health in horses. ...
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... In intensive animal production systems, straw is used as a structural component in ruminant diets (Dänicke et al. 2014). For horses, straw is frequently utilised not only as bedding material but also as a hay substitute in the feed (Airaksinen et al. 2001). For pigs, straw is usually not used as a ration component, but as bedding and manipulable material as it is also used for poultry and ostrich. ...
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This paper describes and compares three techniques of categorisation of hay, straw and other feeds and beddings collected from stables. A hand-held sampler was used to categorise samples according to the presence of plant material, fungal spores and dust mites. An Andersen sampler was used to categorise samples according to the thermotolerances of fungi and actinomycetes. An aerodynamic particle sizer was used to categorise samples according to respirable particle release rates. The highest burden of respirable particles was associated with the presence of thermophilic and thermotolerant actinomycetes and fungi. The portable slit sampler proved to be an accurate, quick and simple semiquantitative method of assessing the mould contamination of source materials. This latter technique requires only a microscope and the sampler, and is thus ideal for veterinary practices and small diagnostic laboratories.
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The occurrence of microfungi in the air and in feeding and bedding materials was studied on 32 Finnish dairy farms. Air samples for determining viable and total spore concentrations were collected on membrane filters and with a cascade impactor. Genera of mesophilic, xerophilic, and thermophilic fungi were identified in four culture media. Total spore counts were done with the aid of an epifluorescence microscope. To identify fungal flora in agricultural materials, feeding and bedding material samples were also taken from the farms. The airborne spore concentrations varied for viable mesophilic, xerophilic, and thermophilic fungi from 10(1) to 10(7) colony-forming units per cubic meter, and for total spores from 10(5) to 10(7) spores per cubic meter. Aspergillus, Penicillium, Cladosporium, Absidia species, Wallemia sebi and yeasts were the predominant fungi in the air, as well as in the material samples. In general, the airborne spore concentrations were high although the variation in the concentrations of different fungal groups was large between the farms. Along with using new growth media, two fungi whose prevalence was earlier poorly known in Finland were detected. W sebi proved to be the most abundant xerophilic fungi in the air and hay samples, while Fusarium spp were very common in grain and straw but rare in air.
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Airborne dust concentration (ADC) was measured in 2 different horse management systems using an Andersen cascade impactor in the box-stall, and a personal Marple cascade impactor attached to the halter to measure ADC in the breathing zone. The levels of aeroallergens implicated in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were measured by radioallergosorbent-inhibition immunoassay. A conventional management system (System C) utilising hay feed and straw bedding, and a recommended environment (System R) utilising wood shaving bedding and a complete pelleted diet were studied. In the stall, total and respirable ADC (geometric mean) were significantly higher in System C (2.55 mg/m3; 0.44 mg/m3, respectively) than in System R (0.70 mg/m3; 0.20 mg/m3, respectively). In System C, the total and respirable ADC in the breathing zone (17.51 mg/m3; 9.28 mg/m3) were much higher than in the stall, but values in both regions were similar in System R (0.52 mg/m3; 0.30 mg/m3). Major aeroallergens were significantly higher in System C than in System R: Micropolyspora faeni (1423 ng/m3 and 705 ng/m3), Aspergillus fumigatus (1823 ng/m3 and 748 ng/m3), and mite allergens (1420 ng/m3 and 761 ng/m3). Measurement of ADC with personal samplers indicates that the very high inhalation challenge in the breathing zone is not reflected in measurements of stall air quality. When compared with System C, System R produced only 3% of the respirable dust burden in the breathing zone and a decreased aeroallergen challenge.