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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
4 hooves up for our barn!