Hard keepers

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Hard keepers

This is a discussion on Hard keepers within the Barn Maintenance forums, part of the Barns, Boarding, and Farms category
  • Equine hard keepers
  • Horses that are hard keepers

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    12-30-2010, 08:49 PM
Hard keepers

Would like to hear opinions from BO's or Mgrs on what they feel is a hard keeper in regards to bedding and what kind of, if any, upcharge is distributed to the customer for the excess bedding needed. Horses are stalled at night and on turnout during the day, pretty much destroy the stall on a nightly basis on sawdust (used because we can get it in bulk).
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    12-30-2010, 10:00 PM
I am a boarder not a BO, but am the owner of 2 horses... One is a hard keeper and on is an easy one. The hard keeper is senior, needs lots of grain, and makes a very dirty stall. Easy keeper gets one handful of grain and immaculate stall.
I have no problem paying for extra feed for my senior, but as far as being charged more for extra shavings, no. The stalls are cleaned once a day, no more. If my senior makes a mess, then he stands in it until cleaning time. (Like yours, during the cold weather they are in at night and out during the day unless weather is severe.) the perk for my BO is that my easy keeper only needs his stall cleaned out every 2nd or third day, just picked out inc wet spot the rest of the time.
So as far as bedding goes, as a boarder I feel that an extra wheelbarrow of shavings a few times a week falls under the realm of reasonable care expectations.
    01-01-2011, 12:50 AM
As a BO&BM I do not charge extra just because a horse has a messy stall. I also use sawdust and for me anyway the extra wheelbarrow is costing me pennies a day. If I could not get the sawdust and had to use pine shavings, then yes I would charge extra.

It might not necessarily be do to her being fed more. I would say it is more likely that your horse is a stall walker. Walking in circles in the stall mixing in the manure into the bedding. This can sometimes be cured by giving the horse more room (bigger stall) or moving them closer to their buddy's stall.
    01-01-2011, 11:46 AM

What area of the country are you located in? I figure my sawdust is costing about $2-$3 per wheelbarrow (trucks have gone from 53 to 45 and we are lucky if mills are cutting around here). If I could get it for pennies a day I'd be in Heaven!

I term these horses hard keepers because you could pretty much strip them daily and re-bed the entire stall.
    01-01-2011, 01:00 PM
We use baled pine shavings, and at $5+ per bale, if a horse is particularly messy and uses up their bedding by wetting it (you can sift out the manure, usually) a lot, I don't think it is unreasonable to charge more. Granted, we charge the absolute minimum for board so there is not room for "overages"... If I were charging people enough to make a big profit, I'd probably eat a few extra bales on an occassional basis. When we are able to get bulk shavings, it isn't a big deal at all and I wouldn't dream of charing extra unless the owner requested the horse always have extra or deeper bedding.
    01-01-2011, 02:14 PM
I get sawdust from a local sawmill about 9 miles from my barn. To get a bucket load into my pickup it is $3 and a trailer load (about 5 bucket loads) is $15. I am in the Ozarks of Missouri. There are sawmills all over. By sawdust I mean it is fine oak sawdust, not large pine shavings like is sold in packaged bales. I can get pine shavings by the load too, but the closest sawmill that does pine is about 30 miles and it is $25 a bucket load.
If I was in an area where I could not get it from the mill then I would definitely charge more.
    01-01-2011, 09:01 PM

Have you had any issues using the Oak? Thought that was a product to avoid as bedding? We only use Pine, never any of the hardwoods.
    01-01-2011, 09:30 PM
Julia - horses should not ingest acorns as they can produce illness, however Oak and many hardwoods are okay for bedding. They also should not ingest the leaves of most maple trees (cynosis)... and actually lots of woody products can cause poisoning in horses, however, most of the woods produced for furniture are okay for use as bedding. However, WALNUT is the kind of bedding to a void. Even just .4% presence of walnut shavings/dust in a stall is enough to cause poisoning. Ick. Scary stuff.
    01-01-2011, 09:51 PM
I have never had any problems and a lot of the other barns in the area use it as well without problems. The mill guarantees that there is no other woods in the sawdust. They only process oak. In fact my vet uses it in the stalls at his office and at home.

The hardwoods to watch out for are walnut and cherry. I have big oaks in my pastures and my horses eat their acorns all the time and I have never had any problems. I have also heard about the maple leaves but I have seen horse munch away on them with no issues either. This does not mean that some horses may react to acorns or maple leaves, but in my experience they have not had any issues.
    01-01-2011, 11:14 PM
Originally Posted by back in the crosby again    
I have big oaks in my pastures and my horses eat their acorns all the time and I have never had any problems. I have also heard about the maple leaves but I have seen horse munch away on them with no issues either. This does not mean that some horses may react to acorns or maple leaves, but in my experience they have not had any issues.
Yes - this seems to be the case. Silver Maples seem to be the ONLY Maple tree whose leaves don't produce cyanide. The university research I found implied that a horse would have to ingest a great deal of them (leaves, acorns, etc) to have serious side-effects (they mentioned horses who were very hungry/bored). Everything in moderation, I guess, haha. Except Walnut.

I recall seeing not to allow horses to eat Cherry stuff - what problems does that cause? I believe that is one where the worry is that your horse will ingest it. I know with Walnut, ingestion is not the problem - it's simply contact with the oils. Even if you have a Walnut tree on your property, but not necessarily with/near your horses, and you cut it down, the process of cutting/disposing of it will release the oils into the air and can cause SERIOUS illness/death in nearby horses if the wind happens to blow their direction. Nasty, scary stuff, that walnut!

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