I have been using the pelleted pine bedding for a month now and have been sold. As much as I didn't want to like them, I like them. I like them a lot. I like they are super easy to sift, I like they are super easy to store, I like that they are super easy to prepare for use and I like that it only takes 10 mins to clean the App's stall.
I have been slowly using up the newspaper bedding in the TWH's stall, I have really come to dread having to clean his stall. It takes forever, in comparison, and it is still messy. In using the paper bedding up I wanted to have a pretty clear idea on which option I wanted to go with the bedding. I have been mentally comparing the bulk bedding in the donkey's stall to the pelleted bedding and I have made up my mind, pellets is the way to go. Yes they are more expensive but the time and effort savings seems to be worth it. I am only using a bag a week in the App's stall and a bag every week and a half to two weeks in the pony's stall. That is better than the 2 bags a week I had originally calculated and makes the cost difference to bulk bedding much smaller.
I like that it is easy to put in the stalls. No more taking an hour or more (and a pretty physically demanding hour) to fill a wagon and then empty said wagon in the different stalls, making up to 3 trips in a day. To expand a bag of pellets I simply open a 40lb bag into a wheelbarrow and put a gallon and a half of water over the pellets and let them sit while I clean a stall. After I clean one stall I take the stall fork and turn the pellets over, at this point about a third of the pellets have expanded. I clean a second stall and repeat and most pellets have expanded. I then add about another half gallon by sprinkling the pellets and fluffing and let it sit while I clean the third stall. By the time I am done with the third stall I dump the wheelbarrow of pellets in a stall and call it a day. At this point 80% of the pellets have expanded and the rest break down by having a horse walk on them. If desired you can sprinkle the pellets again in the stall to finish the expansion of the last of the pellets. It takes no more than 5 mins of effort when I incorporate it into stall cleaning. If I used warm water or it was warm out then the expansion process should take significantly less time but alas it is cold out already.
The only concern I have is expanding the pellets when it gets really cold and doesn't come above freezing. Technically I could bring the wheelbarrow into the garage while it sits during the cold periods or I could bring out hot water and then it should expand before it froze. Not sure how this will work, it will take some trial and error I am sure. All in all though, I do really like the pelleted bedding and am going to go this route. I hope I was able to help anyone else going through a bedding ordeal!