Hemp Horse Bedding - A Look Into the Florida Market
Driving north on i75, from Tampa to Tallahassee, is what some consider to be a boring drive. Views solely consist of miles and miles of flat pastured lands, with a few barns sprinkled in there as well. If you are looking closely enough, you will notice a sign that reads “Now Entering Marion County – Horse Capital of the World.” More specifically, it is the town of Ocala, Florida – which is considered to be the horse capital of the world. Home to over 600 thorough-bred horse farms, as well as the official training site of the US Equestrian Team. Both Ocala and the state of Florida, command a great deal of respect in the horse world.
Like so many of the practical uses for hemp, the playbook for the future is written in the past. Reintroduction of hemp bedding for horses can be seamlessly accomplished by skimming through the history books. Hemp bedding for horses has shown many benefits to traditional methods, some of which include less dust and more absorbent properties. Minimizing dust levels is essential because horses, by nature, breathe through their noses, and any loose airborne particles can cause respiratory and allergy problems. Also, hemp can absorb 4 times its weight, which makes it one of the most absorbent horse beddings on the market. Due to its absorbency, ammonia and unwanted smells are subdued much better than traditional beddings. This absorbency also traps in more heat for more extended periods, which makes it much more cost-effective for horse owners.
The Florida horse industry, including suppliers, has an almost $7 billion impact on the Florida GDP, each year. According to Florida employment records, nearly 250,000 jobs are intertwined with the industry.
With an estimated 750,000 horses in Florida, how much hemp would it take to satisfy this market? Let’s assume 100% substitution from traditional methods by horse owners.
According to the American Hemp website instructions on hemp bedding, eight bags (each bag is 33lbs) are needed for a base (12’ x 12’ stall). The owner would then need to add two bags per week to supplement lost bedding from muck outs (exact usage depends on stall habits of the horse), and a full replacement of the bedding is needed every two months.
Given these figures, we can determine that a total of 117 bags are needed per horse per year (roughly 3861 lbs of hemp bedding). Taking this figure of 117 bags per year per horse, and multiplying by the number of horses in Florida (750,000), we can begin to see the enormous potential commercial demand in Florida’s horse industry (almost 3 billion lbs of hemp bedding!).
Although this demand number assumes that every horse owner in Florida has switched their bedding over completely to hemp bedding, one can quickly see the total pent up demand for horse bedding made from hemp.