Our Guinea-Pig sitter advised us that wood shavings are not ideal for putting in small animal cages, even though it may be dust extracted, it can still make them cough. Instead, she suggested something called Megazorb, which is a type of horse bedding. Once a month or so, I take a trip over to an equestrian supplier in Cleckheaton to buy a sack. (There is a place in Morley but they have to order it in, the other one always has a pallet full).
Last time I was there, whilst I waited patiently in a large queue I noticed a leaflet extolling the virtues of Megazorb. It is a by-product of the pulp industry and a Company called Northern Crop Driers make it by high temperature kiln drying followed by a double dust extraction. It is five times more absorbent than straw, 2.5 times more bio-degradable than paper and only has half the waste volume of shavings.
The leaflet even tells you the best way to manage stable husbandry. I boggled at step two, the sacks are large and heavy, eight of them would be a chore!
# Start with a completely clean stable
# Place 8 or more bags of MEGAZORB in the stable (12ft x 10ft). Use less for rubber matting.
# During the first week add a further bag of MEGAZORB
# Every week thereafter add half to one bag of MEGAZORB
# Be prepared to remove solids daily (easily done using a shavings fork).
# Be prepared to remove very wet patches whilst leaving the base of the rest of the bed untouched. If needs be, replace the removed wet material with fresh MEGAZORB.
Megazorb appears to be a side-line for the York based Company, they also make three other grass based products, Graze-on, Graze-on gold blend and Grass Nuts.
One of their suppliers has registered the Megazorb domain and even has photos of how it is made.
Footnote: When the sack is getting low, one of us says “We need some more Absorbaloff“, a Dr. Who/Peter Kay reference.