View Full Version : bagged vs. bulk shavings, and NoVA suppliers

Jul. 6, 2010, 01:40 PM
Bagged or bulk, what do you use on your small farms? I've used mostly bagged over the years, and experimented with many types. Currently I favor the Guardian Swift Pick "sawdust" (more like mini chips/flakes). Did not have great luck with the pellets other than with the very wet horses with predictable pee spots. I'm looking for a way to cut costs but still keep the stalls nice and healthy. I'm thinking of building a proper shavings pit and getting bulk delivered, but want to make sure I know what I'm getting into. Is it possible to get nice (NOT dusty or with debris) bulk shavings in the NoVA area and can someone refer me to a supplier?

Jul. 6, 2010, 03:08 PM
I live in the same town as you Hoser, and had bulk shavings delivered for a while when we first moved here in 2003 -- from a couple of recommended sources. I can dig up the numbers for you if you want (they're at home, I'm at work). It was definately cheap, but the inconsistency of the shavings (sometimes nice, sometimes dust) and it freezing in the winter and having to shovel it to transfer it into stalls made me decide on our small little farm (5 horses, 10 acres) to go with pelleted wood. We used Guardian for a while, then Woody Pet, now I actually think we're using Southern States brand, because they recently stopped carrying Woody Pet. Once we're loaded into each stall (8 bags), I only average 1 bag per stall per week (less in summer for day turnin). I hose the stalls down about every three days to keep the dust down. It saves so much time on mucking and hassle with managing it.

If I was really trying to whittle down my barn budget, I'd go back to bulk shavings. But right now with my schedule, the time savings and cost are worth it.

Jul. 7, 2010, 07:47 AM
Dear Jazzrider: we tried wood pellets and frankly all of us got backache dealing with the extra weight on the forks. We went back to shavings.
But yes we do grind thru a couple of bags per horse a week..which adds up. I haven't built a shavings shed so we do bags rather than bulk.

Jul. 7, 2010, 09:24 AM
Hmm. I don't understand how pelleted bedding can be heavier than shavings. The concept behind it is that the dry bedding falls through the forks with a shake or two and you just get up the manure. The pee spots become sort of bedding pancakes that are easily lifted up. Way less bedding comes out of the stalls with pelleted than shavings. Even when I had a boarder horse who was a stall spinner and complete mess, I never had a problem. And I'm not a big person, or that young...:)

Sep. 8, 2010, 09:55 PM
I found a sawmill/pallet factory near me and got there sawdust for FREE. Had to shovel it myself but well worth it when you think how much sawdust costs.
I would either put it in contractor bags to store, or fill my truck bed and put right into the stalls.

Only thing that sucks was they were slow in the winter, so I had to buy in bulk sometimes. I love not having the garbage left from bagged shavings.

The finer the sawdust, the better it seems to work too. Hate those big flakes!

Sep. 10, 2010, 08:24 AM
Back when I had 2 horses: bagged was easier!
With 14.......the cost savings are way worth bulk. We used to get sawdust really cheap from a pallet place but they closed up/moved to NJ. Now we get them from the local sawmill. Luckily the local mill knows they sell their stuff to horse people and are careful to keep the walnut stuff entirely separate from the pine stuff.The also offer both shavings and sawdust...or you can have them mix them. I get the mix. All dust is too dusty,all shavings don't absorb pee well (being fresh and not kiln dried like the bagged ones). You can go to the mill and get it for no delivery fee (just have them dump a scoop in your truck bed) or they will deliver larger loads for a fee. I get it delivered by the truckload for 14 horses. As noted above: with the slow economy the mill does close intermittently with poor building business. There have been times I had to go buy bagged until the mill reopened. We have an unused shed next to the barn I keep ours in.

Sep. 10, 2010, 08:50 AM
I work at a sawmill so have access to all the bulk shavings I can take home for free. I still buy bagged shavings. The bulk shavings are not consistent and change depending on what we are manufacturing at the time. Sometimes they are nice fluffy shavings, sometimes they are gritty, grainy dust, sometimes finer dust. Sometimes they are small chips rather than shavings. I'd just rather have consistency without all the dust so I buy bagged shavings.

ETA: All of our shavings are kiln dried southern pine so at least I never had to worry about walnut :eek:

Sep. 10, 2010, 09:21 AM
David Condon Farm has good prices and shavings (I've only bought bagged from them...beautiful stuff) and they should go to Lovettesville.

There's also Tri-County Feed & Tack (a beautiful tack store too!), even though they're in Marshall, VA, they even deliver to MD...delivery is $5. They have 3-4 different bagged shavings, so you can pick your poison.

They also carry Progressive Feed...great stuff but expensive.

Sep. 10, 2010, 09:29 AM
I am still searching for the utopia of perfect bedding.

Currently, I'm trying Best Cob, the pelleted corn cob bedding. I think it will compost nicely. 2 stalls, very dusty, 2 stalls, not so bad...I am trying not watering at all in the less-dusty. Get these at TSC

Guardian Pellets - get these at Tri County

Other brand pine pellets get these at the Culpeper Co-Op in Marshall.

All too dusty.

Struefex - compressed straw pellets...too dusty...and it was too expensive and the less expensive source dried up...but they had them at Tri County

Fluffy shavings, too long to pick and eventually dusty - got from a local lady - shared a load

Fine shavings, probably what I'll be back to this winter - I get them from the Horse Sense people in marshall.

IMO, there is no such thing as a non-dusty, product that is easy to pick, inexpensive and obtainable.

I do bagged, because I work full time and have a 6 stall barn. I don't have time or energy to shovel them into a wheelbarrow.

May. 30, 2011, 11:00 PM
I'm bumping this back up rather than starting a new thread. Does anyone know where in NOVA I could get the fine/sawdust bagged shavings?

I would need to go pick them up myself and was hoping someone could suggest a place in Fairfax or Loudoun county.

I'm currently using the big flake white pine bags and they are making me nuts - impossible to clean without wasting a ton!



May. 31, 2011, 09:41 AM
Tri-county in Marshall VA has an amazing bunch of different things. Nice tack shop too! They deliver for $5 if you buy 500 pounds of anything. They'll even stack it for you.

May. 31, 2011, 09:55 AM
Five horse boarding barn...bulk shavings.

May. 31, 2011, 11:40 PM
Eh, since someone bumped this up, I'll update.

The Best Cob was the most dusty bedding I've had. I actually loaded the unused bags up and exchanged them for the sale pine shavings at TSC.

I used those over the winter, but am now back to summer bedding, which is pelleted. I use the Guardian ones, and am also trying the Swift Pick.

The long and short is that they ALL get dirty and dusty and break down. Shavings take too long to clean, pellets are dusty, small shavings are ok but also get dusty.

Obviously the answer is to become independently wealthy, hire a staff to strip and powerwash the barn monthly, and use fresh bedding.

While I love Tri-County's store, I love my money more. I go down the road to the Co-Op and it is considerably less expensive.

M. O'Connor
Jun. 1, 2011, 08:13 AM
The day we moved our horses to VA is the day I said GOODBYE forever to shavings and I have not been one bit sorry to do it.

Straw. LOVE. IT.

Sure, cleaning a straw stall takes some getting used to, but I have found it to be far more economical (I can REALLY splurge on making a straw stall deep and not feel the $ pinch) to use, less wasteful (we compost a fair amount of it and reuse it in the garden) and the mushroom man takes it away for FREE.

It's lighter to handle, cheaper to buy and FREE to dispose of. I will NEVER go back to shavings if I have a choice.

Jun. 1, 2011, 01:59 PM
The day we moved our horses to VA is the day I said GOODBYE forever to shavings and I have not been one bit sorry to do it.

Straw. LOVE. IT.

Sure, cleaning a straw stall takes some getting used to, but I have found it to be far more economical (I can REALLY splurge on making a straw stall deep and not feel the $ pinch) to use, less wasteful (we compost a fair amount of it and reuse it in the garden) and the mushroom man takes it away for FREE.

It's lighter to handle, cheaper to buy and FREE to dispose of. I will NEVER go back to shavings if I have a choice.

Can I pick your brain a bit?? I have never bedded on straw, but am seriously considering it...do you find it's significantly less absorbant than shavings? How many bales do you need to really bed up a stall? What is the price per bale and where can you get it?


Jun. 1, 2011, 06:08 PM
Does VA have Tractor Supply? If so, the bagged "fine" shavings are somewhere in between sawdust and fine chips. They go on sale all the time for just a few dollars a bag, and they work great, especially in wet stalls.

Jun. 1, 2011, 11:58 PM
I actually went to the TS in Leesburg today. They only have the crappy wood shavings that look more like wood chips to me.

The sales person told me that they haven't carried the fine shavings in years. Bummer.

I am seriously going to go nuts by the end of the summer with the world's dirtiest horse on stall rest! :(

How I long for a big pile of sawdust!! (we don't have room at my barn and have to use bags of something).

Jun. 2, 2011, 12:22 PM
PaintPony, Southern States has really nice bagged sawdust. I used to get mine there. I think it's about $5-$6/bag.

Jun. 2, 2011, 12:41 PM
I have four stalls and use bulk sawdust, but when I do use bagged shavings I use Dry Nest. It's a little dusty, but I just hose it down a bit and it's great. :yes: You can get it at CFC.

Jun. 2, 2011, 12:50 PM
I've never found any shavings that I like as much as the Guardian Swift Pick. The generics are cheaper but just not worth the cost savings. My manure piles are so much more manageable when I use the smaller shavings. Not to mention - my back appreciates how easy they are to pick.

Best of luck to the OP.

Jun. 2, 2011, 06:08 PM
PaintPony, I live equidistant to two TS stores-one in GA and another in AL. The one in GA routinely carries fine bagged shavings, but the one in AL doesn't. Both managers assured me that if I request a TS product not in stock, the next truck with room on it can bring it to the store from their warehouse. And the AL store did get a load of the fine shavings in @ my request. So, in theory, you should be able to get some fine shavings at your TS. And I agree, those big chunky ones are much less desirable, but I will use them on my fastitdious pony, who manures and pees in a dainty pile in the corner of her stall. The Shire? Not so much.