Sunday, January 18, 2015

Let's Talk Stall Forks

I'm interested in people's opinions regarding what kind of stall fork works best for them and their setup.  Some forks work best with stall shavings, some work best with sawdust and sand, while others work best with straw, so be sure to let us know which type of ground cover you're dealing with.

When I first owned horses, I had metal forks with wooden handles.  The tines were straight with no edge, so the manure just fell off the sides.  I tried crafting sides out of hanger wire, but it didn't work well, because the hanger wire kept bending and getting in the way.  There was another problem with the tines being spaced too far apart.  The fork was more appropriate for picking up old straw bedding.

Then those basket stall forks were invented, and I relied up them for years.  I found that they broke at the location where the plastic met up with the wooden handle and was screwed in.  I could still use them as long as the frame didn't break, but usually after a couple of years of sitting out in the elements, the frame and tines did break.

Recently, my local feed store began stocking curved plastic fork heads on hollow metal handles.  They were only $9.98, so I couldn't pass up on trying them out.  I quickly found that I preferred this model for several reasons.  With the hollow metal handle, the entire fork was lighter weight.  The angle of the tines made it easier to pick up manure without having to really get my shoulders and elbows into it.  The plastic felt sturdier than the basket's plastic I had been using.  In the cooler temperatures, I don't have to wear gloves to avoid splinters with the metal handle.

So, today I switched back and forth between the basket fork and the curved fork, and I found that my muscles were getting fatigued using the heavy basket fork with the wood handle.  I've struggled with tennis elbow and tendonitis in my wrist for years, and I've always blamed all the manure pick up and shoveling I do.  Here's a picture of the two forks I'm talking about.

I liked the purple one enough that I bought a second one this week when I was at the feed store.  I'm not sure what brand it is.  It's a little different from what I see online, so it may come from some smaller business.

I did a little bit of a science experiment to see if the basket fork could actually hold more manure.  Technically, it can, but each time I have to tilt the head up to pick up another round of manure, what is in the basket rolls out, so I find myself wasting time having to re-scoop manure I already picked up in order to fill the basket.  The purple fork will pick up about 3/4ths of a fresh pile of manure, I turn to dump it in the wagon, and I'm onto the rest of the manure in the time it takes to scoop and re-scoop multiple times with the basket.

Here are some other tools I use when I'm ready to move the manure pile to the landfill.

The plastic snow shovel with a short handle is what I use to move large amounts of manure into and out of the trailer.  The push broom is to sweep the deck when the shovel can do no more.


TeresaA said...

I use the basket fork with a hollow plastic handle. I"ve not seen the curved one but I like it. I have shavings in the stall.

achieve1dream said...

I think this is the one I have. Wood handle, no sides or basket... I've used the basket kind in stalls with shavings for bedding and I loved it, but yes I had the same problem with the manure rolling out. I think they need to work on the angle a little to make it the perfect fork. The one I have now works well enough for the screenings gravel I have in the barn right now. I'm really curious about the one you have though since it's lighter and cheaper. I'll see if Tractor Supply has it next time I need one, because the one I have will break eventually. They always do. It sounds like the one you were using in the very beginning was a normal pitchfork. I have one of those but I only use it for moving hay (I peel hay off my round bales and put it in a feeder so they don't fight over it and because it's easier for the donkey to reach). Thanks for sharing this new muck fork!

Katharine Swan said...

I agree, your new fork looks like a much better design! I'll have to look around in the stores here and see if I can find one.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention in my post that I used the forks with sand, wood shavings, and sawdust. Now I just use them on sand.

Venom said...

My stalls are all rubber matted and I use straw as bedding.
I use the plastic forks, but I only buy heads. Places around here figure they've got you, you have to buy a new handle because they order STUPIDLY. Why do I want to spend $23 on a whole new fork when I only need the head? A question too difficult for some here....

Relatives live 2 hours away, we visit between places fairly often, the Home Hardware store there has an equine section and they order plenty of extra heads so they can sell them separately!! Genius.
$12 for just the heads and hubby attaches them to the old handles.

Now, if I were the merchant, I's want your $12 x regular purchase + loyal customer over selling the whole stupid fork.

I have no preference on metal over wood handles, but using the same handle for years and years means no splinters.
Hubby likes the wood because the metal handles we've bought are a few inches shorter.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I would never order a stall fork with handle over the Internet, because of the over-sized shipping costs. The online stores have finally caught on to that and give you the option to just order the heads. The heads can be as low as $6 to $15 depending on the kind you order. But I haven't seen just the heads for sale in local stores.

lilyrose said...

Our forks have the basket type head on a metal handle with a bend. They are pretty light weight. Have had the same four handles for about ten years now...we just order new heads on the internet, as all the feed stores around here stopped carrying the brand we like. We sometimes use them on shavings in our rarely used stalls. Mostly used on a sand/gravel mix in our turn outs.

Laura Lee said...

That curved one looks nice, I haven't seen those before.

I used the old fashioned straight plastic ones for a while and still have them as back up. I tried the metal ones that are like the plastic ones because I was tired of tines breaking off, but they are so darn heavy. Then I bought a basket one like your red one and it's heavy too but seems to work well with the stall pellets I use for the bedding. A lighter weight model would be much appreciated. Definitely getting a work out in the mornings that's for sure! I hope they start to carry those curved forks, I'd give that a try.

Cindy D. said...

Have you seen the ones that Shoppers sells called the Wave Forks? They are super expensive and come in all different colors.

They are made by Noble Outfitters. Here is a link to a picture of one.

Most people see them, pick them up and then set them down once they see the price. What they don't know is that these forks are virtually indestructible, AND every piece on it is backed by a five year warranty. If you break any piece at any time, you simply call Noble and they will send you a replacement piece. Plus the wave design makes it glide across the ground. It also has the basket similar to the one you purchased.

While I am a Noble Outfitters Dealer and can get you, or any other blogger a great deal on one of these, my goal was not to get you to buy one from me, but to let you know that it really is worth every penny. I have one, which I paid full price for and it was because of that fork that I became a Noble dealer in the first place.