View Full Version : mucking

Jul. 28, 2011, 11:38 PM
Any time saving techniques for cleaning stalls? On average, how long does it take you to do a stall?


Jul. 29, 2011, 12:33 AM
I bed with pelleted bedding in the wet spots, covered with fine flake shavings. I only pick the manure for 6 days, takes about 5-10 minutes per stall per picking (maybe 3 piles in the stall). On the 7th day, I pick out the wet stuff, that takes about 30-40 minutes per stall.

If I'm in a big rush, I just toss the manure into a corner of the stall so that the horses don't grind it into the shavings, and pick it out later.

The manure goes into my Newer Spreader, which has to be spread every other day, so add about 15 minutes to the stall cleaning chores on those days.

Jul. 29, 2011, 12:47 AM
I use pelleted bedding and pick every day. I don't actually lock D in his stall, but he likes to hang out in there (used to be on stall board before I owned him). It takes me about 5 minutes to scoop up his pee spot and any piles (usually 4-6). Takes me another minute or two to rake the bedding out and make sure he has a nice spot to sleep.

Growing up we did stalls the way that MM describes - I liked that method when I was doing 6-10 stalls a day.

Jul. 29, 2011, 07:25 AM
Yup, pellets are the way to go. When I had all three stalls full (one with a VERY messy TB) it took me 15 minutes, tops, even if they had been inside for 24 hours due to a storm or something. Now I just have my painfully neat QH gelding and the VERY messy TB, and it takes me ten minutes tops, if the TB has absolutely destroyed his stall. If he didn't happen to pace and grind everything in, I can get both stalls done in under five minutes.

I muck into muck buckets and then leave them outside. Then, once the six buckets are full, I fire up the tractor and spreader. Saves time not firing up the tractor every day. Then again, I only have 2 or 3 horses, max, and fill up just one or 1.5 buckets a day, so six buckets lasts me just under a week. Obviously if you have more horses, my method doesn't really make sense. :)

Jul. 29, 2011, 08:45 AM
I muck 7 stalls 3-4 days a week (co-op barn). We use pine shavings and it takes me 8-15 min per stall. We have 3 horses who will urinate 2-3 times during a 12 hour period and 2 who stall-walk really badly so those take longer. So 7 stalls takes 60-90 minutes usually. If I feel like melting in the heat I muck at 4 pm before I feed. If I do this it only takes 45 minutes because a lot of the mess comes from excited/hungry ponies pacing around while I drop grain.

My favorite method is to go through and pick all of the giant poop piles out of all of the stalls. Dump wheel barrow. Use shovel and remove all wet bedding. Dump wheel barrow twice. Go back through, spread shavings, pick out tiny pieces of manure, and decide which stalls need shavings. dump wheel barrow (usually only 1/4 full, if that). Add shavings to 3-4 stalls. Sweep shavings back 3 feet from door.

This method creates a really really clean stall with absolutely no smell.

Jul. 29, 2011, 08:54 AM
We have 9 stalls, all with very messy TB, and we bed with straw and last years loose hay........it's grown on farm so makes it a heck of a lot cheaper....and it takes me about 20mins each stall.
We take everything, as you never know whats touched what and where they did their business exactly.
And we do this every day.

I would much much MUCH rather have shavings or pellets! lol it sounds sooo quick!

Jul. 29, 2011, 09:07 AM
pelleted bedding, thoroughly cleaned daily. mucking takes about 5 mins per stall.

Jul. 29, 2011, 10:49 AM
You might also look at the tools you are using. I had to cover for daughter after her (swimming related) shoulder surgery in April. Have to say doing things "like I used to" was making me very tired with sore places.

I seem to be kind of a tool junkie, collect various types of forks, shovels, other work related devices. So I went thru some of the collection, changed the tools I was using. Seemed to help quite a bit. I am now faster, not sore, and they seem easier to use for me.

We have changed from sawdust to a product they call wood fiber, available locally. To me it looks like mulch! The owners have horses, are aware of the dangers with certain trees, so the wood fiber is only made of safe woods, then dried to a percentage. Too dry makes it very dusty, too moist cuts the absorbtion rate as bedding. We have been using it about 18 months, like it pretty well. Also is not terribly expensive, delivered to our bin where we cover it to keep drier. Bin is outside, so tarps do leak a bit and wet it, but the wood fibers dry fast, so I just spread it a bit in the bin if it gets really wet.

Anyway, I use a 10-tined fork, which has the tines close enough to hold a load, but small enough that I am not killing myself like using sawdust forks. I prefer the metal tines, because I kept breaking the plastic ones, or the fork would tip and dump the loads. Plastic also does not "slide into the wet stuff" like metal does, so again, more work to get under a forkful. This is the fork, though I got mine at a horse auction, less expensive. Also EXCELLENT for hay or straw used as bedding. My original reason for buying fork was we had straw bedding then, plastic again was useless. 6-tine fork dropped too much.


Then I looked at my shovels. The scoop shovels all have short handles, work OK for snow, but not doing well with bedding weight. I have to bend knees to scoop, lift, to put the load into the spreader. Scoop shoves take a BIG load, which gets heavy when filled with wet bedding and manure. So back to the collection, got a longer handled shovel with a slightly smaller scoop shape. Kind of looks like the one below. Shovel head has sides, wider front, larger then the square shovels for moving dirt. Handle is longer for good leverage, like a digging spade. Picks up smaller loads than the big scoops, but EASIER to pick up several smaller loads than soring yourself up with one big load each time you lift. I find it also easier to use than the other style shovels we have. Long handles mean almost no knee bending, but still have power to lift the loads easily with that leverage factor.


I am checking out a metal sawdust fork, aluminum, to see if it can do the work with my wood fiber. My friend bought one for her sawdust, is trying it out before I buy. She has stall muckers and was going broke buying plastic heads for her forks. Can't find a photo, but the aluminum sawdust fork was exactly like the plastic ones, except metal. Looked quite sturdy, but a bit pricy at $30. Cashmans were selling them at the local Horse Expo in March, but I can't find them on their site. You could call Cashmans and ask for it or do the Ask Us on their site. Haven't seen my friend since then to ask about how fork worked out for her.


You might also study your body use when shoveling/forking things about. Are you keeping your body trunk straight all your working time? Absolutely NO BENDING or twisting at the waist for lifting or moving loads? Stepping forward with the full load on tool to throw it? No body twisting when moving loads? You need to bend your knees while keeping body trunk straight, for lifting loads, then step into the direction you are moving load to drop or throw, EVERY fork/shovel full. Doing this instead of the easier twist and throw, keep feet in one-position method, will prevent back soreness and injury. Not using your body correctly is where people hurt themselves, damage your spine for life-long back trouble. You are not built to be a lifting crane, bent over to lift things. Your lower back has the wrong muscling for bending work, strength is for straight spine use. Ergonomics of good work methods is a science that is studied to prevent body injury, especially important to horse folks with planned years of stall cleaning ahead.

Anyway, this is to give you another way of looking at how things are done, not just technique with various beddings to remove soiled parts. You have to work at changing your ways, if you decide to do things differently. "Retrain" yourself to be safer, still be effective in working, until it feels natural again. Back issues, being sore, are no fun. Just changing tools helped me. I don't work the same way I used to, things like type of bedding have changed, so I need to change my methods and tools as well.

Jul. 29, 2011, 11:06 AM
Fans in the summer. Right now everyone has two fans and they don't move much when they're in during the day. Pee in one spot, manure in the other. Really wonderful.

Jul. 29, 2011, 11:13 AM
Time to clean a stall depends on the horse....I have 2 taht are real pigs, three that are very tidy and the rest in between.


makes a huge difference.

Jul. 29, 2011, 11:37 AM
When I worked in barns, I always banked shavings along the sides of the stall, which saved time since I didn't to haul shavings to the stalls after every mucking. It also can help with horses that get cast in their stalls since it kinda eliminates that 90 degree angle between the floor and the wall. I also sweep back the shavings from the door for about 18" to 2' so shavings don't get tracked out as easily. I prefer stalls to have mats as well, it makes clean up a lot easier, and when you strip the stalls (I normally did about once a month) you can hose them out as well, or bleach it if there was a sick horse in the stall.

Jul. 29, 2011, 01:24 PM
pelleted bedding, thoroughly cleaned daily. mucking takes about 5 mins per stall.

As a new acolyte in the Church of Completely Pelleted Stalls (after many years of shavings only, then shavings with pellets for pee spots), I have to say my mucking time has dropped drastically.

Pellets - those freshly misted & those broken down both allow manure fork to pick up only manure.
Pellets drop right through so a heckuva lot less wasted bedding.

Wet spots stay concentrated and can be left a couple days if you want.
I don't but could, as the pellets I use change color when saturated.

I used 2 bags - 40#ea - initially in each (stripped, no mats) stall, and found this lasted nearly 2 weeks until I wanted to add another bag to each stall.
If you want really fluffy bedding, then use the 6 bags/stall the mfr recommends.
For me the Fluff Factor of 2 bags was sufficient and my horses agree as they do lay down in stalls bedded this way.

the used bedding composts a lot quicker than shavings.
If I don't dump my wheelbarrow after mucking for a couple days (one horse, one pony - I have this luxury of time)
when I do the contents are already heating up.

Jul. 29, 2011, 02:09 PM
15 minutes with shavings.

Go in pickup surface poops, toss entire stall against wall, pick out poops, scoop up wet spot. Return dirtiest shavings to pee spot, even out. Remove bucket, scrub re-fill.

I tend to toss quite vigorously though :yes: that works the best.

Jul. 29, 2011, 03:31 PM
Pelleted person here, too. 5 minutes per stall.

I do think the right tool helps. I have a "wonder fork" type plastic tined jobby. However, I have the plastic basket sides on it, and LOVE it. You can really give the poop a good shake and get rid of the pellets or shavings (I do bed with shavings in the winter for one old boy, on top of pellets).

I can clean a shavings only stall in 10, including wet spot, if I have a basket style fork.

Jul. 29, 2011, 04:14 PM
I bed on pellets and muck 2x a day -- in the morning and during my last round of barn chores. I have one who will grind up the manure, so hitting it twice gives me a better chance of mucking intact poops! My guys are all in a paddock with stall access, so mucking the sand run-out area and the pellet-bedded stalls for three horses takes about 10 minutes.

The other trick is to buy potty-trained ponies!! ;) One of mine is very neurotic and only poops in one spot along the back one and pees in the same location. He's the same way in his paddock too.

Jul. 29, 2011, 09:56 PM
Haha, mg I know a horse like that, I love her!

Thanks for all the replies! The stalls I'm mucking aren't mine so I don't really have control over the bedding choice. The barn uses sawdust.

I haven't mucked much, so I'm sure some of it is just practice, but I'm sure there are ways to speed things up a bit without sacrificing cleanliness. I have started raking the bedding back from the door and also from underneath the water buckets. I'm not super sore, but I will definitely think about how I'm using my body, I was doing a lot of twisting- whoops!

The horses spend a lot of time in their stalls, so some of the poops get ground into pieces that are difficult to pick up with the pitch fork. Do you guys tend to leave those little pieces or do you try to get a totally clean stall each time?

If I ever get my own horse and keep it at home I will definitely look into pellets! Wow, 5 mins a stall sounds amazing!

Jul. 30, 2011, 03:24 AM
I have started raking the bedding back from the door and also from underneath the water buckets

The horses spend a lot of time in their stalls

If the stalls are concrete with no mats, you may want to reconsider the bare doorways - some horse spend most of their stall time standing in that doorway.

Jul. 30, 2011, 03:53 PM
I got this great new fork with basketed sides called Fine Tines, it's like a normal plastic fork but the tines are closer together so you can get much smaller pieces out.


I got the junior one, it's only slightly narrower than the normal fork, but the handle is a normal length. The additional tines do add some weight to the full size one.

It won't work very well if you have the big flake shavings. But if you have the small flake, pellets or sawdust it should be wonderful! I have a normal fork too and I think the fine tines picks up maybe 50% of what is left by that one...pretty cool.

Jul. 30, 2011, 05:35 PM
sawdust kept in the back two corners of each stall, stalls picked 2-3 times a day. Time is dependent on time of year and turnout. The really gross ones might get pellets in the winter, but it def. helps to pick poops a few times a day when they are out of their stalls. Take in a muck bucket, a close pronged plastic pitchfork, pick piles and sift through as ness., search for wet spots but no digging in the AM, obvious wet spots only after that. Evening picking takes maybe 45 mins for 17 stalls.

Jul. 30, 2011, 08:33 PM
I do stalls where I board my horse a couple of days each week. Currently, there's 8 horses (OK, one is a mini) that are in either during the day or at night and 3 of the horses are complete slobs. Right now, it's being taking me just about an hour and a half on a good day to thoroughly clean them all. Obviously, it'll take much longer to clean in the winter when they're stuck inside a lot more!

When cleaning, I generally pile the manure piles over top of the wet areas. Anybody else do this or am I just weird!? :lol:

I'm a little OCD so I'll usually sift through all of the bedding to get any manure that may have been mixed into the sawdust, etc. Then, I'll pitch everything that I've gathered into the "dirty" pile, into the gator. When the gator is full I dump it, finish cleaning, and then load the gator up with sawdust to finish up.

Jul. 30, 2011, 09:05 PM
5 - 8 minutes per stall, depending on the horse. Shavings.

First I remove any big manure piles, then I toss all the bedding against the wall to catch any loose poo balls and to get the wet spots. Sprinkle a scoop of Stall Dry on the wet spots, pull down the sides and even out, pick out any balls I've missed, add fresh shavings, dump and scrub water buckets, and finally a flake of hay. The horses are inside 19 hours a day, so stalls are picked out again after dinner grain.