Saturday 5th September, 2015
Being a horse owner is a privilege and a joy for many people across the country, yet along with our equine companions comes a whole lot of hard work, and one of the least enjoyable jobs we face is mucking out. Whether your horse is stabled only during the winter months or all year round, there is no escaping the need to clean out your stable or stall on a daily basis, so here are our five handy hints to making mucking out much easier.
Ok, so you won’t be personally lying in this bed, but the materials you use for your horses bed will have a big impact on how easy it is for you to clean. Straw and shavings are the most common bedding materials and both have advantages and disadvantages, however shavings is usually considered the easiest to manage. A bed of shavings is far more absorbent than straw and it is quicker to spot and remove droppings as they do not fall through the bedding as easily.
The first rule to making light work of mucking out a stable is getting the right tools for the job. If you are using straw bedding then a wide pronged pitchfork will allow you to fluff up the straw but will be useless with a bed of shavings where a narrow pronged fork is needed to sift the droppings from the bed. A shovel will also be needed for deep cleans to remove the wet impacted layers of bedding and don’t underestimate the importance of a good quality broom to sweep the stable and yard clean once you are done. Lastly, invest in a sturdy wheelbarrow that will not tip or leak your dirty bedding
across the yard.
Deep litter is undoubtedly the easiest most cost effective way to manage a bed of shavings as you only remove the droppings from the top, allowing the wet layers to compact at the bottom and
adding a fresh dry layer for your horse to lay down upon. However this practice does require a full deep clean every 3 months, which can be incredibly hard work, as you remove the heavy wet layers
and disinfect the floors before relaying a full bed of 3 or more shaving bales. If you put your pitchfork into the bed and it hits the ground then your bedding layer is not thick enough, but to save on additional bedding materials why not invest in rubber matting for a warm, cushioned stable floor.
When washing floors in between deep litter beds it is vital to remember to wash both the walls and
the floors with an appropriate disinfectant. You will need to ensure that your solution is equine
friendly and includes a cleaning agent with active enzymes that will remove the bacteria that cause
the distinctive and unpleasant ammonia.
It is important to include considerable banks in your stable beds, especially when using shavings.
When mucking out simply throw the top layer of bedding up the banks and any droppings will fall
down to the bottom allowing quick and easy removal. By throwing clean bedding up into large banks
each day you will reveal the wet layers beneath which can then be shovelled away before bring the
banks back down and adding further fresh bedding. Each day when throwing bedding up into banks,
choose a different corner to store the clean bedding so that during the week each of the four
corners of the stable have been cleaned and swept.