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Anyone ever use an ergonomic pitch fork?

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  • Anyone ever use an ergonomic pitch fork?

    So, now that I finally have a horse, I have to do manual labor in order to afford him! In other words, I clean 12 stalls 3 days a week, and other assorted barn work. My neck is KILLING me. I have totally figured out that it's the way I stand and use my arms to muck, and have even switched hands, but still by the time I'm done, I have a huge headache. We use pelleted bedding and I use just a regular plastic future fork.

    Anyone ever use the ones with the ergonomic bend to it? The bo uses the fine tined basket fork commonly used with Woody Pet, and that one is HORRIBLE! I can't use that one at all; it is WAY too heavy for me. Thought about buying myself one, but they're not that cheap, so just thought I'd get the opinions of the wonderful COTHers to help me out.

  • #2
    It's funny, but years and years ago, before anyone ever thought of making an ergonomic fork, my husband ran over my fantastic fork with the tractor and bent the handle. I couldn't afford to replace it, so used it with that funny bend in the handle, and found that much to my surprise, it made my job easier! No more "sh**-shovelers' elbow", no more back ache ! I have replaced the head on that aluminum handle half a dozen times but still use the same handle. I believe that the light weight of the aluminum handle is just as important as the bend, as some of those fork handles are quite heavy.
    "I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you..."


    • #3
      I LOVE those pitchforks!!! They take some getting used to though. A neighbor gave one to the BO I used to work for. At first it seemed so akward and I didn't care for it. The more you use it though, it grows on you. Now a normal pitchfork feels super akward.


      • #4
        yup, we use them here on our farm. I think we have 6 of them now, and I wouldn't go back to the straight handles for everyday work. We have 19 stalls and 11 paddocks that are cleaned everyday. I have many years of experience with the wood handles to compare to.


        • #5
          yes, I have one,

          and here's what you need to know. I would probably be classified as a professional stall cleaner in my former life, and can still pitch a single turd into a coffee can from 15 ft (everyone needs a skill). I used it ONCE. I hate it, and it's currently hanging in the equipment room with nary a turd stain. If you're passing through my way, you're welcome to it. Your pain will diminish as you get used to it. Arnica gel and a hot bath will help, better if you get your vet to mix you up some dmso and cortisone. Your mouth will taste funny in the morning, but your shoulder will feel better.


          • #6
            They work fine if you just toss the poops (straight off the front of the tines) into the wheelbarrow - not so good for those people that prefer to "flip" their poops into the wheelbarrow. The bend in the handle doesn't distribute the weight of the tool properly to allow for an easy "flip". I guess it depends if you are a "flipper" or a "tosser".


            • #7
              I use one from time to time (my trainer has one and I swipe it when I can) but you're right, it turns me from a turner into a tosser, and that's kind of weird. It really doesn't flip well, and I do find that the handle gets COLD even in our Florida winter. But I'm getting stall cleaner's elbow, and it's really hard for me to switch sides! I will consciously think about it tomorrow, because my hip hurts, too...

              I think it's time for half of ours to go out to pasture .


              • #8
                OP might want to study some ergonomic film to get proper position and body stance for using the fork. Also change sides every 15 minutes, to use both sides of body equally.

                Working for a Utility Company, we were trained in material handling. In my first few weeks on the job, I got shovel practice, under supervision. Moving large dirt piles from here, to there. I was shown to place feet slightly spread, move the outside foot instead of twisting body to throw the dirt. No BENDING OVER, ever. You bend the knees, stoop with spine straight from head to rearend, then scoop and lift by straightening the knees.

                I had been shoveling stalls for years, this body position was odd, uncomfortable to begin with. Supervisor stopping you in mid move, was difficult. His constant correction of shovel holding, body postion, REALLY took up a lot of time as well as being aggravating. Dirt WAS NOT being moved quickly! I did finally "get it" and learned the method they wanted used.

                After some practice over a couple days, position of body, shovel movement, using the knees, got familiar, comfortable and unthinking to use. It really was the better way to do shoveling of heavy dirt, over and over and over again. Like stalls.

                Over time we have seen many tapes on correct body position, lifting, moving materials of all kinds. Tapes tell you why your body is best used in the straight spine position, knees are your strength for lifting. The folks who lift correctly stay healthy over time. Don't suffer "back problems" along with strains and sprains of injuries from doing things with body out of the strength postitions.

                Bending over is extremely hard on your lower back. Twisting to throw weight is likely to strain or sprain lower back muscles, especially if you are off balance leaning forward with heavy load. Moving that foot EACH shovelfull, keeps weight over your feet, balanced. Use your knees to lift, not lean over and scoop, then lift. Very bad body position for weight lifting. And then to do it MANY times? You are asking for problems, and they will find you.

                Good body position needs to be studied. We did that at work, kept insurance costs down from injuries during work. Doing it right takes thought, training yourself to be correctly postioned for the job you do. Don't jump off vehicles, bad on the joints, easy to loose your footing and hurt the body.

                You will have some soreness, muscle aching that hot soaking bath might help for the first few weeks. That will get better as you get more fit. Do some homework, learn how to shovel, fork out stalls and use your tools correctly to save your body. ESPECIALLY if you don't have insurance to pay for damage to yourself.

                I have an ergonomic broom rake, hate the thing. Gave my mom a rake just like it to aid working with her arthritis, she loves it. I wouldn't bother trying an ergonomic pitchfork for myself after the rake episode.


                • #9
                  It's funny, I despise ergonomic pitchforks. Seriously.


                  • #10
                    I love mine and would not, will not , use anything but.


                    • #11
                      LOVE mine. Well, loved it until I broke tines I have a regular one now as it was all that was available when I needed to replace it - couldn't afford the time to wait to order one, horse was on stall rest, big horse, LOTS of poop.

                      But nobody stays in more than a couple hours a day now so the regular is fine. However, if that changes, I WILL be getting the "bent" one again.

                      Yes, it is weighted differently and will always try to right itself, making it difficult for those who like to turn the thing over.
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                      • #12
                        I love mine!
                        http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn


                        • #13
                          LOVE MINE! It's the only one I use.
                          You can replace the heads with ones made for regular manure forks.
                          Founding Member of "I Kept 'Off Topic Day!' Open"


                          • #14
                            Tried it and as I'm a flipper AND a tosser, I hated it.

                            I am a fan of the original Dura Fork. Not with the added sides, that makes it too heavy.

                            I do have the fine-tines basket one and that one sits unused by all of us as well.

                            Find the one that works best for you, or if you hire people, the one that they prefer. Keep them around.

                            Now that I have rubber mats, I rarely break tines. I used to break tines regularly scraping out wet spots. Now, I only break tines when I am picking up frozen poop in the paddock.


                            • #15
                              I hate it. I used one once and took it back to the store for a refund (cleaned and disinfected of course). The ergo fork cramps my personal mucking style!


                              • #16
                                I can't stand the ergonomic ones either. I think with me it has to do with height...I;m a bit shorter than average and the fork is designed for someone talller than me. Where the bends in the fork are do not even come close to matching the distance from my hands to the floor when holding it and where the grips are placed are too far apart for my reach.

                                Cleaning pelleted stalls with a basket fork takes some time to get used to...you may have some sore spots on you the first few weeks. Try lifting and sifting less each scoop maybe?
                                You jump in the saddle,
                                Hold onto the bridle!
                                Jump in the line!


                                • #17
                                  I also use pelleted bedding with rubber mats, and I despise the "fine tine" fork unless EVERY single piece of pelleted bedding is activated. Those little pellets don't even sift thru the fine tine forks! I think I've used the fine tine twice in the past few years. I have a regular manure fork (plastic head) that I bought about 6-8 years ago. It was made by Union Tools and has a lifetime guarantee on the fork head! I hear they no longer make those. It is my favorite fork ever! I use it to fork snow, spread landscape mulch, AND clean stalls. Not 1 single broken tine. I think I'm on my 3rd handle though. I've had it so long, I can't really remember. I've never been a fan of the basket type forks, as they encourage you to fill up & place too much weight in the basket part. Not good if you suffer from an ounce of carpal tunnel syndrome.


                                  • #18
                                    Hate mine. It is also hanging in the feed room for the taking LOL!

                                    I see a trend here...yes, I'm a flipper also and prefer the straight handle of the future fork.
                                    \"And indeed the love that the horses of the Rangers bore for their riders was so great that they were willing to face even the terror of the Door , if their masters\' hearts were steady as they walked beside them.\" The Return of the Ki


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Agh! I don't know what to do, lol! I have tried to switch sides, and that helps. My back is fine, arms fine, but my neck is super sensitive, and it just aches when I'm done, so maybe I'm unconsciously holding my head a funny way. I'm more of a tosser, but I do "toss and flip" every now and then, but I toss more often, so maybe it will work. Although, like MB, I'm short, so maybe I just need to really examine my 'mucking position' tomorrow and make sure I'm not torquing myself in a funny way. Thanks y'all!


                                      • #20
                                        is it just me...

                                        or does the fact that while I can't tell you how to open an email attachment, I can tell you exactly how I muck a stall? I thought I was the only OCD stall mucker anywhere or at least according to DH and sister, neither of whom even pretend they can do as good of a job. We were discussing a semi retired employee of ours that wants to work for cash, and since that cash comes out of my pocket, it's getting a bit expensive. When I pointed out to DH that for $2K per month I could hire someone to muck 4 stalls and probably sparklize the barn at least six days per week, he said "no you can't, you're to damn picky". I opened my mouth to argue, then closed it, realizing he was probably right. Sad, just, sad.