Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Newspaper bedding review

The most insane part of the month is finally over, my mother has left and I have returned from the Congress.  Gearing up for visitors this weekend and then things look to take a serious slow down, I am actually looking forward to it!  Maybe not for all winter but some slowness for a few weeks will be really nice.

I figured I would give my review of the new bedding since I had so many people interested.  I am amazed and excited that I had people comment on it!  It has been a couple of weeks now and I have both Chip and Sinatra on it and I finally have a fairly solid opinion.

Newspaper bedding in a stall
What it is: recycled newspaper (not magazines/books) that has been chopped into approximately 1/2 inch squares.  It comes in 2 forms, bagged or bulk.  Bags are currently sold at Tractor Supply by a local company that makes the product or the company sells it bulk via a 6' long, 4' wide, 30" high "bale".  The bag is compressed and is the size of sawdust bags and expands to approximately 12 cu ft, the bale is compressed and expands to approximately 14 cu yds.  It is cheaper to purchase it by the bale, TSC sells the bag for $.25 a pound and the bale is $.17 a pound delivered and comes in a 800-950 pound bale.  My bale cost $135 delivered.

My initial concerns of this bedding were:
Layers and layers of wet newspaper.  Paper gets wet easily and then sticks to everything
Heavy wet newspaper.  I have cleaned animal cages lined with newspaper and hated it.
Smell.  Wet newspaper always tends to smell
Everything staying wet. When you clean something lined with newspaper or spill something on newspaper, it never absorbs everything.
Messy.  Tiny little pieces of newspaper flying everywhere as I try moving it to a stall.  Or blowing out of a stall

The guy who delivered it recommended stripping the stall before I use it as to not mix bedding, while you could mix the bedding it is more efficient to not plus it would give me an idea of how it truly performs.  Since I am all about efficiency, Chip's stall was stripped and all of his bedding went into Sinatra's stall.  I put 40 cu ft of expanded newspaper in his stall, it looked pretty deep and was sufficient for what I wanted.  The next day the stall looked clean.  Things were pretty compacted down however it fluffed right back up after  I tossed it in the air or sifted through it.   One thing I quickly found is that the poo is quickly covered by the newspaper fluff so you can't see it.  This is why the stall looks clean, the heavy poo falls to the floor and the fluffy stuff envelops it.  Think whipped cream and throwing a strawberry in it.

Chip's stall
Cleaning stalls does now require a different skill set, sifting doesn't work well with this product.  It requires a combination of tossing and shaking to get all of the fluffy bedding out and find the heavy poo.  I am taking a half scoop and lightly tossing to see if I feel the clunk/heaviness of poo.  If so then I toss and shake until I find the poo.  If not then I toss the bedding a little to fluff it up and put it in a "clean" pile.  A bad thing I can say is that you have to go through ALL bedding to find the poo because you can't see most of it.  After finding the bedding I scrape the fluffy stuff off of the wet spot and then scrape up the wet newspaper.  The wet spot does clump together making it pretty easy to scoop up.

Sinatra's stall
The good?
This bedding is amazingly light and virtually weightless, that makes it extremely easy to sift through and toss.
Also makes it extremely easy to get more bedding as I can fill a wheelbarrow and a full wheelbarrow is effortless to push.
I can "peel" off layers of compacted bedding to bring back to the stalls and fluff it in the stall to eliminate multiple trips.  It only took 1.5 trips of compacted bedding in the 10 cu ft wheelbarrow to completely fill Sinatra's stall vs 4 trips of fluffed bedding for Chip's stall.
The stall almost always looks clean (when plenty of bedding is in the stall.  Do not let this bedding get low, it gets messy from the wet spots).
The newspaper is easy to sift out and when you toss the poo, any clean newspaper will flutter away before going in the wheelbarrow.  This saves on bedding and eliminates waste
The newspaper clumps in the wet spot, making it easy to get rid of and not wasting a bunch of dry bedding finding the edges.
The clumps have an odor but takes the odor with it and the stall is smell-free after being cleaned.
I am using less of the product OR the product I am using is taking up less space in the wheelbarrow.  Undecided on which is true yet.

Waste after 4 stalls.
4 stalls normally makes a full wheelbarrow
The bad?
It looks messy.  While there is always sawdust on the ground, it is kinda tan and the dirt is kinda tan so it isn't very noticeable.  This stuff is white and the dirt is kinda tan so it sticks out pretty badly making it always look messy even when it really isn't.
You have to sift the entire stall to find the poo which does increase my cleaning times
If the horse likes to wee in small doses in multiple spots, you do have to take more bedding than expected.  If damp bedding is left it gets the entire stall really messy pretty quickly,.  This is an issue with Chip, my Mr Pee's A Lot stall is much, much better on this bedding.
You have to keep a lot of bedding in the stall, allowing it to run low will make things go bad quickly.  If all of the wet bedding isn't taken out it won't fluff or toss and gets messy.
You have to learn a new way to clean stalls to match the newspaper, it doesn't sift the same as wood.

Looks messy 
All in all I think I like the product and will likely get another bale and transfer everyone over.  If nothing else it is a good bit cheaper than wood chips, I would be buying locally, it is 100% green as it is recycled newspaper that will decompose significantly faster than wood chips, it requires significantly less space to store and it is super light to handle and compact to store.

I am working on ways to make the cons be better, I am getting better at cleaning so it is taking slightly less time.  I am still experimenting with Chip to try to find the best way to manage him and his wet spot habits, I throw more away due to him by far.  I am now leaving a 3-4 foot bedding-free spot in front of everyone's stall to help eliminate them kicking it out of their stalls, Sinatra is especially bad about doing this.  We will see how it goes.  Picture time!

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