Farm life, Uncategorized

TSC Pellitized Bedding

Time and money are always in short supply and with the new farm it seems like everything is an experiment on what will work out in our given situation. My latest quest was to find a bedding solution that I didn’t hate.

There is a Tractor Supply less than 1/4 mile from my office which makes it super convenient to use as my major farm supply store.  For the first 6 weeks on the farm, we used their premium pine shavings at $5.48 per bag. It took two bags per stall to get a decent amount of depth. If they were spending the entire night inside, I’d have used three bags per stall.

The shavings were ok. They smelled good, had zero dust and the bags were super easy to store and use. But they were very wasteful and basically required me to strip the entire stall each week to bare mats and use Lyme to help dry them out faster and neutralize any odor that remained. I was making 12 wheel barrow trips each week I cleaned the stalls and dumping in two fresh bags per stall to start all over. It made me die a little inside every time I threw out perfectly good, clean shavings with the bad as they were too big to shift through the pitchfork.

I needed an alternative.

The hubby contacted a local saw mill to check with them. they deliver 18 yards of saw dust for $205. Nothing comes close to that price and the dust is small particle. The issue was that they only deliver during our working hours and storage of that much saw dust. Yeah, we have plenty of empty stalls to use, but the dump truck couldn’t fit inside the barn and that is a ton of wheel barrow trips to transport it from the dump site to a stall. I wanted to run out of other options before doing that.

Which brought me to the TSC Pellitized Bedding. It was on sale for 2/$11 which is basically the exact same price as the premium shavings, so we gave it a go.

Now…don’t be like me. I did zero research and ended up buying way too few bags to start requiring a second trip to the store and I had no idea how to use them so…um…I just dumped it on the floor and shook my head wondering why anyone thought it was a good idea to put hard pellets down. Not only is it not comfortable looking, but those things roll around and all I could imagine was a broken leg and a cast horse who fell in the stall.

I use the wheel barrow after I’m done cleaning the stalls to dump the new bag and soak. It looks a lot like grain fresh from the bag. 

Turns out there is a process to using them. Oops. I did research it before bringing the horses in and remedied my error quickly.

How do they stack up?

When on sale the price per bag is the same as the shavings and I have yet to purchase any more when not on sale so I don’t know the actual cost. I think it was $1 off per bag. It took five bags per stall to initially bed it down to the depth I was happy with, so that is an additional nine bags up front cost. They still come in super easy to store and handle bags which is nice and they live in the hay stall.

Pre soaking. This gives yo a reference for how much it will expand. They say online to add a gallon of water er 40 lb bag, but I just use the hose and fill it up. I’ve yet to use too much water, but I am sure you can ruin the entire bag if you do. 

The savings has come in the weekly cleaning. The particles are super fine and basically I feel like I am in a giant cat litter box sifting through for the dry and liquid waste. It even clumps with urine like cat litter does. There is next to no waste which has reduced my wheel barrow loads from 12 down to 7 which is a big time saver as well as reduction to my manure pile (which I hate with an unhealthy passion, but needs to exist until I can save up to buy a manure spreader). Since there is no waste, I can top of each stall when finished picking and have so far only needed one extra bag total a week to do this, which saves me five bags of shavings a week. After two weeks I am already saving money even with the initial up front increase in cost.

After adding an unknown quantity of water. You can actually hear it soaking up the water and watch it grow. Sorta sounds like Rice Krispy cereal in milk. 

It is horse approved as well. Every time I top it off, Pete comes back out of his stall covered in shavings from a good roll. He never did that with the regular shavings. I really like the feel of these as they are super springy and comfortable under my own feet, so I can only image how it feels to the horses.

Old Man Winter coming out of his freshly cleaned stall covered in savings from rolling. 

The only real con I have found is that cleaning the stalls takes twice as long even with the reduced trip to dump the wheel barrow. Sifting through the piles, trying to sift off the excess clean shavings, and trying to locate the pee piles takes way more time than just scooping it all up as before. I thought it would even out with the fewer trips to the pile and less bags needing dumped back in, but the time it takes to soak the stuff before dumping it wastes any time gained.

Not sure if you have to , but i like to stir it all up with my hand and make sure the majority is soft and fluffy. I always end up with some pellets remaining, but not so many that I care. I have read online that people just throw the dry pellets in when they top it off, but ick. 

In the end though, it is worth it. I like the bedding a lot more in general, the horses are happier and it is costing way less money. I’ve used it for three weeks now and will continue for now. I know there are fancier versions of the pellets out there, but so far this is working out just fine and has the convenience of me being able to pick up bags after work n my way home versus taking time off work to meet the delivery guy and spending half a day moving it inside.

Nice fine shavings that pass through the pitch fork easily

4 hooves up for our barn!

10 thoughts on “TSC Pellitized Bedding”

  1. Our barn switched to pellet shavings for a short period of time. They dumped them in stall, then sprayed with hose and fluffed. If they had used adequate amounts i think they would have been nice, but they were told to bed sparingly so it wasnt impressive. My mare was rather fastidious amd pooped outside, pee in one area so she always ended up with a nice bedding.

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    1. It does need to be put down pretty thick originally which increases the upfront costs. But weekly I’m using five less bags so the savings added up quickly. I tried using the hose once put down and it didn’t seem to absorb as well as soaking in the wheel barrow.

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      1. I was at that barn with Kat and I wasn’t a fan when they switched. Mainly because the BO was a cheap skate so she never properly bedded to begin with but also because the poor guys were absolutely understaffed for the number of stalls they had to do so then the shavings were never properly sprayed leaving bedding in hole pellets (which my dumbass horse always wanted to eat).

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      2. Yuck. Yeah these take a bit more effort than just dumping and moving on. I spend probably 10 minutes soaking and fluffing them before I dump plus the initial bedding down took a lot of bags before I was happy with it but ever since it has been easy to top off. I’m not a fan of the pellets being put in without soaking if it is the only bedding but a lot of people do it that way.

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  2. i mix in pellets with my horse’s bedding bc his stall somehow always seems to be pretty wet…. i don’t have to soak them since they’re mixed with softer sawdust, which definitely helps too, but they work well for keeping things dry!! re: sawdust, at my first barn they just had them dump a pile next to the barn and kept it covered with tarps. then during quiet times when other work didn’t need doing, we barn rats would run loads from the big pile into spare stalls for indoor storage. it worked well enough as a system, mostly tho bc it was the barn rats and staff at a larger operation who did the work haha

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    1. I need to get some barn rats! I thought about keeping it outside under a tarp but that is so unsightly and then the tarp blows off or someone forgets to cover it and it rains and ruins half the pile etc….I like the bags as I can easily store them without taking up much room and at the moment four bags last me an entire month. That’s only $22 a month in bedding. Not a bad deal.

      I can see being able to add the pellets in dry if the base is nice and it is going to be damp. My concern with the pellets is what happens when the humidity sets in. Will they stay sorta damp? That doesn’t seem good for the hooves although they aren’t inside for long each day.

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  3. The last barn I boarded at used pelleted bedding and they would soak in a wheelbarrow before putting in the stalls. I really liked it! I’ve used it myself at home but I find myself going back to medium flake pine shavings. The flakes are easy enough to pick through. Our local TSC has shredded newspaper bedding from a local mill that I really really like but it’s more expensive and TSC is out of my way, while our local chain farm supply is on my way home from work.

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  4. Our barn doesn’t allow shavings so we use the pellets as well, although only when thy have to get locked up for stall rest or something like that. Most of the time, they just have rubber mats. I like the pellets a lot for cleaning, but I would probably get a shavings delivery at the lower cost if I had my own barn and was doing stalls all the time.

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  5. I told you you would love them this is what we use at our barn and they are GREAT! They do take longer to clean and Shawn actually pulls the wet away and lets them dry then goes back to clean later. But she is a fanatic (LOL)….i am glad you found something that works for you!!

    My barn cuts the bag open a bit and wets them in the bag in the aisle then moves them into the stall. And i dont see any difference in humidity. However you do need to use enough though for sure…..Remus has been on straw at Emily’s and he is so much dirtier too on that.

    They do cause a LOT OF DUST though, I always come home looking like i have been in a dust storm 🙂

    PS My friend also uses the Rice Krispies sound as a reference 🙂 HA!

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