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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm helping a friend try to reduce labor cost at their stable. They have 42 indoor stalls...no outdoor boarding. Day consist of taking horses (42) to/from turn outs, mucking stalls, 3 feeding/watering, blanketing when needed, etc. Thoughts on the numbers of stable hands needed.
 

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Just a thought - cutting down employees to reduce labor costs may quite possibly detrimental in the long run. I'd expect the rate of turnover to spike if existing employees are suddenly expected to work longer hours and work harder to meet the work requirements that more people did previously.

I clean 18 stalls, twice a week. I don't turn-out horses, I only feed hay in the stalls loose, and most stalls have auto-waterers. My barn doesn't deal with blanketing, period. If I hustle, I can finish those 18 stalls in around 2 hours. If I had to turn-out all of those horses before cleaning stalls, it would probably take an additional 30 minutes. If hay bags were involved, it take probably another 30 minutes. To bring the horses back in, that's another 30 minutes. To do all that you are describing in my current situation, I'd need at least 4.5-5.5 hours to complete those tasks alone on a good, fast-paced day, for only 18 horses.

If I were looking to work at the barn you are describing, I'd expect to have at least 2 others helping me (considering this would NOT be a full time position for most people). I'd expect that all 3 of us would turn-out all of the horses at once, then 2 of us would work on cleaning stalls while the 3rd person fed/watered/fetched bedding/etc. If I would guess, this could take about 3-4 hours for 3 people to complete, if the barn and property were laid out in a way that makes things go quickly.

You didn't mention if mucking stalls would involve wheelbarrows or a tractor. A tractor that could hold more manure and save on back & forth time to the manure pile would make things go a lot quicker, and keep the employees more energized. Same for hay and feed. Moving more hay and feed at once (either on a cart or a tractor, whatever) will save on the back & forth time from the hay pile and feed room.

How many people does the friend have now? Has she/he considered increasing board to offset costs, rather than overload her/his employees? Has she/he evaluated her feeding procedures to see if there is any way to optimize it? Same with mucking and bedding? I'd be very hesitant to cut down on employees before looking into other options.
 

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My daughter has worked at 2 different barns. Both had around 40 - 50 horses at any given time. She has never worked with under 2 people on each shift. Generally there were 2 stall cleaners and one person that fed - did blankets and moved horses to outdoor stalls or paddocks. That being said she did not work a full 8 hour day each day when she and her partner were done cleaning stalls, outdoor pens and doing other misc tasks they left. This is pretty much how it works at both barns. At the one she is at now they alternate between 2-3 people each day and on the days the third person is there is when the stall stripping etc is done.
 

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My daughter just started working at her stable. It’s a fairly large facility with two barns, approximately 80ish horses (not including pasture boarded horses which are owners responsiblity). Duties include turnout/bringing in the horses, blanket service if requested, feeding 2x daily (hay and grain/supplements), watering for one barn (the other has automatic waterers in the stalls), mucking and bedding 1x daily, sweeping aisles and meds for horses as needed. They try for 3-4 workers per shift but sometimes have as little as 2 workers per shift. With only 2 workers per shift, it’s a long shift and the workers get burned out quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks everyone for the input. I think the challenge she is having is she is paying by the day not the hour. She currently has 3 employees with one making $150 a day and the other two making $120 a day. As donkey stated, all are not “full-time” but are being paid like they are. The issue is trying to find good workers that are willing to work part-time. Again, we are looking at how to reduce labor cost (e.g., be more efficient) not cut people. While raising rates is one option, it would be last as rates are already at a premium for full board ($850 per month)..however she has some grandfathered rates so the average per stall is $500...if she can get the average per stall up that would also help. She has got the feed and bedding cost about a low as possible.
 

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She is paying $18.75/hour (estimated on an 8 hour day) that is way more than my daughter makes or has made. Currently my daughter makes $15/hr but again is sent home when the work is done. There are some 8 hour days but not many. I think she may need to look at ways to cut the hours of her staff. Or do barn work in exchange for lessons etc.
 

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Where I board, there are about 20 horses that are in stalls half days and turned out half days. The barn has one FT employee. But the barn owner has a deal with some of the riders to exchange riding time for chores. I think she'd need two, or at least one FT and one PT, if she didn't have that deal.
 

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So, stall size is ??, How often are stalls bedded?
Who brings in the supplied shavings needed and leaves it where?
Who feeds, t/o, repairs damages to walls, doors and things the workers encounter during their normal daily routine activities?

Might I suggest if all that is wanted is people to muck stalls, then pay per stall done...done properly.
If you hustle you can make more $$...in less time.
No cutting corners of burying crap for the next worker though is permitted.

As soon as you expect anything extra that breaks the rhythm of mucking stalls you just upped the hours needed to accomplish it in.
You also can not expect someone to do 14x14 deeply bedded box stalls in the same time that a 10x10 with 1/2" of shavings covering half the floor is going to take...being realistic is a necessity.

Your friend is over-paying her workers, and they are taking advantage of it.
Try staggering hours to start....you don't need 3 people to feed 42 horses...
I fed 60 in 45 minutes and that was specific feed amount mix for each animal including supplements added.
We had old supplement buckets that stacked and I would prepare 10 horses at a time then walk the aisle and dump each feed in the bucket.
Each horse also was hayed first to give me time to scoop feed and deliver it so no one went without food to eat... No reason for stall kicking or door banging this way..
I was moving though, not wasting time.
By the time I got done feeding it was time to start turning out...those that went out with a pasture mate walked out with their pasture mate..
This is when the next worker showed up and started turning out with me {horses that went out for 1/2 day went furthest out and hour t/o was kept near the barns}... We had 50 that went to all day t/o...so furthest out.
When all were out we hit the empty open stalls. Cleaned and bedded {we used bagged bedding so before starting stalls on bedding day I pitched 60 bags out of the loft and where they landed they stayed or my coworker would quickly stack to the side, the less times handling "stuff" the less time is wasted.
If hay was needed, here that came too....that was immediately put in the barns out of the weather. Hand trucks or double-wheel wheelbarrows we used.
Feed/grain was my chore and I fit it in between doing turnout and used the tractor bucket cause I could load 15 bags on it easily, swinging load it was but went directly to feed bins, dumped and bags disposed of.
These chores were done of prepping every other day.
Stalls were cleaned, bedded, water bucket{s} dumped & scrubbed quickly. Once done with stalls all the buckets were refilled then aisle swept and out the door to the next barn.
Horses had troughs in their turnouts so no one was without water to drink. Those horses who not have t/o at all we looked quickly to give them a minimum of 1/2 bucket but not fun to dump full buckets either....you learn who are big drinkers and when that occurs in their day.
We each did 12-15 stalls a day...
We were motivated to work and work hard, quickly and efficiently...
We overlapped hours but there were usually 2 of us on at a time and mid day it was all of us present as most work needed done then and we could cover for each other so lunch, changing of t/o got done, and any incidentals...roll with it, deal with it and get it accomplished.

Your friend though is being taken advantage of....first off to me she is paying way to much for the amount of work needing done...42 horses with 3 F/T employees...she's going broke at what she is paying and getting in return.
I get paying to keep good help, but good help is not playing on their phone but working too...
The good help is not stringing along the task but getting it done efficiently, correctly and on to the next task at hand.
I worked hard, had a ton more work to do than just feed, water, t/o and do stalls...those just mentioned I could of accomplished in 5 hours...tops!!
Oversight and some snooping to see why it is taking so long to complete these tasks needing so many hands is what needs finding out.
For example, my 14x14 boxes took me 15 minutes each with full turning of the stall, liming wet spots, covering and bedding the stall, banking and doing the water bucket{s} clean and refilled. Recognize my stalls were 8" - 10" deep on the floor and walls banked 30" high with bedding.
So 2 stalls per 1/2 hour of this size along, this barn had hour t/o schedule so put out and retrieve, blanket or sheet, pick feet of each horse...
These were $100,000+ show horses so pretty special animals they were 30 years ago...
The smaller stalls were accomplished in about 10 minutes a piece...it is all in getting in a routine and rhythm and not interrupted every 5 minutes or start adding on time, a lot of wasted time.
My friend could do 10 stalls in less than a hour with filling water buckets but she did not have deeply bedded stalls, did not t/o nor cross-tie the horses...stalls with the horse kept in it during cleaning is faster if the animal is cooperative and stand still where you place them or toss them in empty stall she did and just dragged bodies in and out when she had to...
I had to remove, cross-tie, then clean and return the horse to the stall adds minutes each stall....timing, it broke my timing.
Keeping boarders out of the way of the workers saves time...farriers and vets did their thing without the barn workers needing to get, hold and return the animals...bring your own hands or help please...

Your friend needs to streamline what is expected done in how much time and pay accordingly.
These workers may be worth what they are being paid but sorry, few barn workers are worth $750 for 5 days work only "part-time" . Full time, 6 days a week and a lot more done and accomplished in that time period...maybe, otherwise nope.
If your friend is paying this in cash, then really taken advantage of..
You realize she is paying what many substitute teachers get paid for educating our future generation???😐
🐴...
 

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Thanks everyone for the input. I think the challenge she is having is she is paying by the day not the hour. She currently has 3 employees with one making $150 a day and the other two making $120 a day. As donkey stated, all are not “full-time” but are being paid like they are. The issue is trying to find good workers that are willing to work part-time. Again, we are looking at how to reduce labor cost (e.g., be more efficient) not cut people. While raising rates is one option, it would be last as rates are already at a premium for full board ($850 per month)..however she has some grandfathered rates so the average per stall is $500...if she can get the average per stall up that would also help. She has got the feed and bedding cost about a low as possible.
Reading this...Your friend herself and two other (NOT CURRENT EMPLOYEES) need to complete all the chores themselves one day and figure out how long it ACTUALLY takes to complete everything. Then, your friend needs to determine an hourly wage (fair for the area, maybe a tad high if she wants to be nice) and figure out how much each person SHOULD be paid.

Example:
$10/hour
Takes all 3 people 5 hours to complete.
$10*5=$50.
Three employees should be getting paid $50 each, or whatever the math works out to with her wage and time it takes. If the employees want to work fast and develop a flow and complete the 5 hours of work in 3 (quality of course) they still get the entire $50.

If she decides to keep paying what she is paying now, let me know. It'd be worth my time and money moving to get paid THAT and quit my FULL TIME JOB. That's $40,000-50,000+ a year if they work every single day of the year! Sign me up!!!
 
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