Research results for Neutra
The equine sector has a strong position in Finnish sports and recreation. Approximately 3500 companies in Finland are active in the horse business, and the country has around 16,000 stables. In 2016 the Finnish equine sector employed up to 15,000 people. Horseback riding was a hobby for around 170,000 Finns, and 220,000 people were either active in or followed trotting races. The equine sector is indeed big business, with horse betting accounting for 234.1 million euros in 2016.
In the summer and autumn of 2017, Neutra conducted research that was undertaken in six different stables with a total of 168 stalls. Of these, 76 used sawdust for bedding, 30 peat, 10 straw and 26 straw pellets. One stable used both peat and straw, while another varied the bedding used in its 26 stalls according to the season – wood pellets in winter and sawdust in summer. The study’s control stable used peat for its 53 stalls. The participating stables tested Neutra for three weeks. During this period the stalls were cleaned twice daily, and approximately 2 dl of Neutra was added each time where needed.
During the study the participating stables used the Neutra additive together with their bedding. Afterwards the stables were invited to give their feedback about the product. Accordingly, the stables noticed a significant improvement in the indoor air quality, which was noticed especially when working. They also noted that the improvement in the air quality had a positive impact on the work environment. The air quality also improved when mucking out. The stables reported that the additive accelerated the composting of manure. The product was praised for its ease of use and for its positive impact on the health and wellbeing of their horses. Prolonging the useful life of horses is an obvious benefit for horse owners and stables.
The stables that tested Neutra reported that the product helped eliminate odours, improved the wellbeing of horses and stable workers, and was ecological. The fact that the product is made in Finland was also noted in connection with its availability and distribution. The product scored between 8 and 10 by all the stables that participated in the study.
People who work in the stables also gave positive feedback about the product. They found it easy to use, and it did not add to their work. Stable workers noted how the product effectively eliminated odours. Before the test, ammonia was often released into the air when cleaning the stalls. Stable workers found that the composition of the product required a little extra caution and that a facemask and gloves should be used when spreading it. They found that the composition of the product was light and therefore quite dusty. Nevertheless, they felt that using the product was very different from using the former product and that they would recommend it to others.
At one of the stables that used sawdust as a bedding in its stalls, the horses were outdoors each day from 8am to 4pm. The stable workers did not notice any difference in the morning air quality during cold weather. However, they found the product to be easy to use, and they gave it a rating of 8. Stables that used wood pellets for bedding found that the product worked well and significantly improved the morning air quality in the stables. Workers from one of these stables reported that it was easier to breath in the stable environment after using the additive. In the control stalls, no difference was found in the quality of the indoor air. Peat is considered to be a more effective bedding in stables in terms of air quality. Peat is an absorbent bedding that also removes moisture from the air. It is also less dusty than other types of bedding. For these reasons, a stable that uses peat was selected as the control for this study. The stalls in the control stable were housed in a new and tall building that had good natural (gravity) ventilation.
The results of this research show that the biggest benefits of using Neutra were found in stables that used straw pellets, sawdust, shavings, wood pellets and straw for bedding. Stables with low ceilings and that used natural (gravity) ventilation and that did not have sufficient flows of fresh air benefitted the most from using the product. The research also shows that the most important aspects of bedding are their effects on the health of the horses. Bedding should be hygienic, clean and absorbent. These properties have a direct impact on the quality of air inside the stables and therefore on the wellbeing and health of the horses, workers and riders. The research also shows that the quality of bedding can be improved by using an additive. Neutra was found to improve the ability of the bedding to bind moisture and prevent ammonia emissions.