View Full Version : Barn Staff Duties

Aug. 9, 2011, 03:31 PM
Hi guys,

I am renegotiating with my barn staff regarding pay and duties at our farm. She has been with us a couple of years and for the last several months I have been feeling as though she is...er...coasting (as my hubby put it).

We had a talk last weekend when it came to a boil over a chore i had asked her to take care of a month prior that she still hadn't started. We had a big party planned and I wanted the barn looking it's best but she never got to it...

As a result of that conversation we have agreed that I would create a list of what i would like her to do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis and she will let me know if she feels it is reasonable or worth her while.

I just wanted to run the list by you guys to see what your thoughts are before I give it to her (ie. if i'm being a huge bitch just tell me!!! ;)

First the details: During the summer there have been only 2 stalls to do for the most part (three for the past 3 weeks). The other 4 horses are living outside. We have a gator to muck into and use bagged shavings that are delivered directly into the barn.

She is paid $250 a week for 6 days/week.

So here is the list. Don't hold back if you think I"m being unreasonable (or the opposite!)

[ ] Muck Stalls
[ ] Empty Gator/Wheelbarrow
[ ] Bed stalls
[ ] Dump and refill waters
[ ] Dump wash stall skip
[ ] Sweep wash stall
[ ] Sweep Aisle including bird poop (shovel?)
[ ] Pine Oil Aisle
[ ] Bring in Hay
[ ] Bring in Horses before leaving (if needed)

[ ] Bring garbage/recycling to curb
[ ] weeding around side of barn
[ ] harrow arena
[ ] cobweb


[ ] Hold horses for vet/farrier if we can’t be there
[ ] Muck out Trailer and refill hay nets if used by her horse/boarders
[ ] Clean arena mirrors
[ ] Clean/windex Tack room Windows and Dutch door windows
[ ] Clean Stall Windows (hose/nozzle inside, windex/cloth outside)

Aug. 9, 2011, 03:37 PM
How many hours does she work in a day/week/month? It seems like some days she may not even make minimum wage.

Aug. 9, 2011, 04:10 PM
Well based on what we make working one day a week at our barn I would say you are more than fair. For approx $45/day we:

1) feed breakfast
2) clean stalls (currently 16)
3) rebed stalls with rice hulls via wheelbarrow
4) do turnouts
5) feed lunch
6) sweep all aisles
7) lay down fly bait
8) empty community manure barrel
9) do turn ins
10) feed dinner
11) do minor repairs as needed - hot wire, water hoses etc

Note: when we have more horses in stalls we do make more.

I don't think many people make even min wage working in horse jobs.

Aug. 9, 2011, 04:14 PM
So, there are seven horses and three stalls? I think you are being more than reasonable. Of course, where you live plays a role.

Aug. 9, 2011, 04:29 PM
Thanks for the feedback guys :)

The rate works out to just over $40 ($41.60) a day and the work takes me about an hour not including the weekly and monthly stuff...but i'm pretty fast (thanks to my working student years!!). My husband who is not as fast at mucking/sweeping etc as i am can do it comfortably in between one and 2 hours - that is the daily stuff. The weekly stuff is a total of 1-2 hours a week done on whatever day she wants to do it.

For just the stalls/bedding/sweeping we have another boarder who does the work on Sundays for a reduction of board by $100/month - so $25 a week. She thinks it's fair and is happy to do it. She gets her stuff done within an hour (sometimes only 45 mins or so).

So basically its between $20 and $40/hour if you are a fast worker. If you take all day to do three stalls then yes, it's probably less than minimum...

Aug. 10, 2011, 12:40 AM
It takes me longer to do stalls than some people, but I'm pretty neurotic and I can't stand any "leftovers" that might have gotten buried. I'm currently working off my gelding's board (minus feed as I provide his feed/supplements) and hay bill. In exchange for that, here's what I do on a farm of 6 horses, 4 stalls but usually only 1-3 in stalls:

1) turnout in the evenings
2) dump/bleach/refill water troughs in fields
3) feed horses
4) minor repairs--fences, electric, general barn stuff
5) hold for vet/farrier (even if not my horse I try to arrange to be there) and schedule appointments for vet/farrier for my horse and BO's horses
6) keep track of feed order and make sure weekly/monthly order is correct
7) pasture maintenance
8) cover mornings if BO is out of town or busy
9) housesit/dogsit/farmsit whenever BO is away
10) do any medicating, wrapping, bandaging, etc needed
11) muck stalls and paddocks
12) feed cats
13) set up stalls for the next day
14) handle correspondence with trainers that come over and schedule lessons, etc for BO, myself, and our 1 boarder
15) pack/unpack/prep trailer for all off-farm excursions for my horse and BO's

I'm at the barn 5-7 nights per week and often a morning or two over the weekend. Whenever BO travels, it's not optional that I take care of the farm, so I'm expected to tailor my schedule to hers. Her pasture board is $250, so if you figure that Gus gets less than $100 in grain a month, then I'm working off about $150. Granted we have fewer horses and fewer stalls on a daily basis, I'm probably working for pennies an hour! Sigh.

Aug. 10, 2011, 07:04 AM
[ ] Dump, scrub and refill waters
[ ] sweep tack room

[ ] general clean up
I don't know about your layout but this should include sweeping stairs, areas of the hay loft, our raking outside

[ ] Clean feed bins

As needed
[ ] Muck out Trailer and refill hay nets if used by her horse/boarders
[ ] Water arena?
[ ] Clean out stall, lift mats?, re-bed

There is more stuff you're forgetting but I can't think of it right now, all those little things that need to get done.

Aug. 10, 2011, 07:58 AM
I get $110 / 5 day week for 13 stalls. I think you are being MORE than reasonable!!!!

Aug. 10, 2011, 08:16 AM
I use to do job function analysis and time and motion studies in a previous life.
So, I like to pay by job task for stalls, and the other stuff by the hour.
I try and figure at least 10 per hour. I pay 40 to clean stalls for 9 horses...2 are in/out. It takes about 3.5 hours in winter, and 2.5 hours in summer.
I also have a gator so no heavy lifting. I also have hs boys who help with getting shavings, hay, etc(the heavy stuff).
Other things I pay extra...throwing hay, raking or picking up poop and leftover hay in paddocks, etc.

Really what you pay is somewhat determined on location and demand. Where I am, there isn't a lot of barn help, and they have to drive 30 miles in some cases.
Soooo, I feel I need to compensate for gas, etc to attract them.

I don't judge what it takes me or one person to do a job, but the average of what it takes 'people' to do the job. Some days it might be a 2 hour job, next day a 3 hour job...many variables on people's work flow, horses out later or in earlier, etc...so its best to determine an average.
In summer, if the person was with me all winter, I don't mind they get it done a bit quicker. They make up for it in winter.

Aug. 10, 2011, 08:21 AM
I have made cobwebs a daily chore or it just won't get done! Honestly, I'm beginning to feel that they are invisible to others.
I think your list is very reasonable....only 2 or 3 stalls? Should be able to whip right thru those if she's been doing it for 2 yrs.
Some people work better off a list (heck, some people cannot work at all without one) I have a nifty pad with numbered lines and a box to check things off as they go....seems to get things done so much better.
And yes, make sure you put SCRUB the buckets down, another thing that seems to be invisible to most.

Aug. 10, 2011, 08:46 AM
I have a gallon of apple cider vinegar to scrub buckets. If it doesn't disappear, I know it isn't getting done. I haven't had to say anything, because the woman who works for me is a clean nut too.

Aug. 10, 2011, 08:57 AM
if weekly chores (like cobwebs) aren't getting done, perhaps you should break the weekly chores down and specify certain days. For example, on Mondays all the daily chores get done plus cobwebs. On Tuesdays all the daily chores get done plus harrow arena, etc.

Aug. 10, 2011, 09:10 AM
I think you're in the "more than fair" range. I pay my barn-sitters $30-40 per day for a shorter list of chores. What's worth considering is drive time--when I'm out of town, even though the barn chores don't take long, the sitter has to drive out here twice a day and depending on where they live that's gas and miles to be considered. Also fierce winter weather!

But I only require feeding and picking up after 2-3 horses, minimal watering (auto waterer), feed the dog, cats, chickens and basically keep an eye on things. It takes me way less than an hour a day to do these basics, so I think that even accounting for gas and drive time the pay is fair. We don't ever go away for more than a week, and mostly weekends, and more important to me than having "big" chores done (I do them myself on days off) is having someone who knows what they're doing looking the horses over every day and keeping things rolling along steadily.

I have found, and this is entirely based on a fairly small sample, that the older and more "grown up" the individual, the more likely they are to take a bit of "ownership" and do the little extras. I've had barn sitters who just did extra because they enjoyed it--grooming my horses, straightening up, fixing little things, etc. And I've had ones who don't even sweep the aisle when they're done. It's fine, no big deal, I'm not paying them to sweep or groom, but just an observation. Their Christmas "bonus" reflects the extra efforts (or not). :)

Aug. 10, 2011, 09:27 AM
If it's taking an hour a day, then that's fair. I like fivehorses way of doing things. If your farm is anything like those I've worked at, weed eating and cleaning arena mirrors take a lot longer than an hour. I charge $35/day for feeding, mucking, scrubing water buckets, etc. If I'm also going to be cleaning out a hay loft, weed eating or taking on some other lengthy enterprise, I charge $10/hour in addition to the daily fee.

Aug. 10, 2011, 09:40 AM
At our farm, we have a sliding scale based on the number of stalls clean. We have a twenty stall facility but if all twenty stalls aren't full, then they don't make twenty stalls worth of cash! This includes if the stall is empty because the horse is at a show. This scale includes everything from cleaning, rebedding, turnout, bring in, spread manure, clean aisle. They can make up to $55 a day if the barn is totally full. After that, each individual extra chore, like feeding the am feed, has a fixed amount they earn. Other chores that have a fixed pay are scrubbing water buckets, grooming, cleaning paddocks, etc. If it doesn't get done, they don't get paid for it, case closed. They are responsible for noting in the time sheets what they did and at the end of the week they get a check.

Based on your amount and what you are saying the time it is to do it all, it seems fair. Maybe she needs to move on to a full time job working the register at a gas and sip for the same amount of money and see if that is more satisfying?

Aug. 10, 2011, 09:29 PM
We pay an above average wage for the area in which we live and we have fair but strict ideas about what this means in terms of getting work done. If, after clear instructions have been given, we have to hound and or micro manage our farm help to get what we want done, we've found that it's time to hire new help.

Aug. 11, 2011, 08:39 AM
Personally, I would reach an agreement about the average time it takes to do a set amount of work with the understanding that some days it may go faster and other days it may go slower. Once agreed upon, create a daily check list so that the expectations for the work to be accomplished that day are clear. No mind reading or remembering what was said last month.

One thing to consider with the wages is that gas prices and driving time come into play. I pay a boarder $15 a day to feed when I am not available for what amounts to 20 minutes of work. But she has to drive 20 miles after work to be there. It's a gallon of gas and an hour of her time door-to-door. She's also completely reliable and has been with me for a long time. Given that the OP has employed her staff person for years, I would do what I could to keep that worker.

Aug. 11, 2011, 01:51 PM
I don't know...You all make it out that $30-$40 a day is SO much money. It's not. And we all know (I'm not saying your employee but having worked in barns my whole life...) sure, the job can be done in 1-2 hours. Then add on the extra stuff. It might take 3-4 hours. So realistically I would say the average wage is like $10 an hour. That's not good money.

My barn pays the stall mucker $350 (YES $350) a week to do between 12-14 stalls 5 days a week. We have someone else who mucks on weekends. The muckers only muck and the weekday mucker brings the horses in in the morning and feeds them. That's all. No dusting, no scrubbing buckets, just refilling them. The weekly mucker averages about $70 a day and it probably takes her 2 -3 hours. That's crazy money to me for just a mucker.

Good help is hard to find. Good help for crummy pay, even harder to find. Pay your staff what you think they are worth. If they do a good job, pay them a lot. It's worth is, so you have the piece of mind that they will show up and do the job.

THAT being said, it sounds like maybe your staff is too comfortable being there. I often see no clear line established between the staff and the owner, as a lot of places are smaller, family oriented establishments and we want them to be a happy, homey place. BUT that causes problems too. Good luck. Hope it works out.

Aug. 11, 2011, 02:28 PM
You all make it out that $30-$40 a day is SO much money

It is for an hour's easy work. Certainly not enough to live on, but it's a darn nice bit of supplemental income. I would have loved to have this sort of option when I was broke and making $4/hour before taxes. :lol: Even with the cost-of-living increase since those olden days, I would have LEAPT at the chance to do a little bit of barn work for $10/hour or that era's equivalent.

Pay your staff what you think they are worth. If they do a good job, pay them a lot.

I do. Beyond the $40/day for an hour's worth of work (or less, *not* more) I frequently put a little extra in the check and give a hefty Christmas gift.

Aug. 11, 2011, 09:49 PM

These are covered by salary:

[ ] Muck Stalls
[ ] Empty Gator/Wheelbarrow
[ ] Bed stalls
[ ] Dump and refill waters
[ ] Dump wash stall skip
[ ] Sweep wash stall
[ ] Sweep Aisle including bird poop (shovel?)
[ ] Pine Oil Aisle
[ ] Bring in Hay
[ ] Bring in Horses before leaving (if needed)
[ ] Bring garbage/recycling to curb
[ ] cobweb

These are all extras that she should be paid for separately on a job by job basis:

[ ] weeding around side of barn
[ ] harrow arena
[ ] Hold horses for vet/farrier if we can’t be there
[ ] Muck out Trailer and refill hay nets if used by her horse/boarders
[ ] Clean arena mirrors
[ ] Clean/windex Tack room Windows and Dutch door windows
[ ] Clean Stall Windows (hose/nozzle inside, windex/cloth outside)