Five Bill-Busters in the Barn
Enclose your stall fronts by hanging well-hinged 12-foot tubular gates across the openings.
Advantages Beyond Savings Gate swings wide open to allow equipment in for stall cleaning; see-through visibility helps prevent equine claustrophobia; gate can be used elsewhere if you decide to upgrade stall fronts later.
Expense $50 to $100 per gate.
Savings $200 minimum per stall opening.
For an insulated water trough, get a 32-gallon plastic trash can and two used tractor tires, (freebies from the tire store). With a chainsaw or jigsaw, widen the tires' holes to the trash can's diameter, plus 2 inches. Stack the tires, then fill the air cavities with roll-type fiberglass insulation from the hardware store. Slide the trash can into the tire opening, and fill any remaining space with insulation.
Advantages Beyond Savings Recycling of used material.
Expense $8 for a trash can; $4 for a small roll of fiberglass insulation.
Savings Insulated water troughs run over $100, so you'll save at least $89.
You can use 30 inch conveyor belting as a low-cost substitute for rubber mats. Disgarded belting can usually be found at a local gravel crusher, manufacturing firm, lumber mill, anywhere conveyor belts are used. Cut it to fit with a carpet knife, and lay the strips side by side.
Advantages Beyond Savings Belting is lighter than rubber mats, so it is easier to pull up for moving/cleaning; also suitable for crosstie areas, washracks, and alleyways.
Expense Often free for hauling; sometimes costs $1 to $3 per running foot.
Savings As much as $240 per stall.
Stall toys are a great place to save. Buy 10 inch or larger balls at a discount store for as little as $3.50. Rinse laundry-soap and bleach bottles, fill with noisy rice, and hang in stalls. Or hang up a squeaky dog toy.
Advantages Beyond Savings Recycling of used materials. A chance to excercise your creativity.
Expense $3.50 for a ball; $3 for a doggy toy.
Savings Catalog stall balls cost about $25; noise pacifiers cost up to $30. Make toys for two horses, and leave about $50 in your pocket.
Buy 50lb bags of powdered marking chalk from the lumberyard to replace your dry-stall products (the dry powders that soak up urine smells in your stalls).
Advantages Beyond Savings Unlike dry lime, chalk is noncaustic.
Expense $5.50 per bag.
Savings (Applies only to commercial-formula stall products, not lime.) $3 per bag. Use 20 bags in a year and save $60.
Five Penny-Savers for Your Pasture
Make a waterer from a plastic barrel sliced lengthwise. Dig an indention in the ground, and lay the barrel in it.
Advantages Beyond Savings Filled with water, this trough won't move.
Expense $8 for a used barrel from a local restaurant or bakery. (Use only "food grade" barrels; not those that have held toxic chemicals.)
Savings A comparable trough from the local farm/ranch store will run you $60; for $52 in savings.
Use the conveyor belting mentioned earlier to create walkways, even driveways through muddy areas.
Advantages Beyond Savings Recycling of used materials.
Expense See earlier conveyor quote.
Savings Installed, concrete runs about $3 per square foot. A 3x10 foot concrete walkway would run $90, so a walkway of free belting would net you that much in savings.
Reduce your hay bill by protecting your pasture from intrusive weeds. By regularly mowing or spraying weeds, you'll keep them from competing with the grass, and thus will grow more fodder you don't have to buy by the bale.
Advantages Beyond Savings Time saved in procuring, hauling, and stacking hay.
Expense Zero if you borrow a mower from a neighbor; about $30 to rent a mower you can pull behind your pickup; about $10 per acre for spraying costs.
Savings Depending upon the size of your acreage and equine family, you could save hundreds, even thousands on the cost of the feed you'd have to buy to compensate for the weeds you should've killed.
Prolong the life of wooden fences by making and applying your own wood preservative and water repellent. Shave 2oz of parafin into 1/2 gallon of mineral spirits or kerosene. (Parafin is available at most supermarkets; wax from old candles also works well.) Stir until dissolved, then add 1/2 gallon of boiled linseed oil. Brush on or apply with a garden sprayer until the wood won't absorb more solution. Treat every few years as needed.
Advantages Beyond Savings Ingredients are readily available.
Expense $10 total for a 1 gallon mix of mineral spirits and linsee oil.
Savings The cost of your fence.
Make your own anticribbing liquid by mixing a small amount of water with tobasco sauce and cayenne pepper. Optional: Add juice drained from a jar of hot peppers. Let moisture sit covered for a couple of days before brushing on.
Advantages Beyond Savings Ingredientas are readily available at any supermaket.
Expense $6 if you have to purchase these ingredients.
Savings If you protect 10 1-inch by 10-foot fence boards, you'll save $50.
Five Helpers for the Hay Room
Convert a non-working, chest-type freezer into a rodent-proof, moisture-proof grain bin. You can store at least 10 100lb bags of grain in a small chest freezer, more in larger ones. (Remove the latch mechanism if you barn is frequented by children.)
Advantages Beyond Savings Recycling of used materials.
Expense Usually free for the hauling; check classified ads or visit a landfill drop-off site.
Savings $100 or more for a storage shed of comparable size.
Preserve more of your hay by storing it off the ground on wooden shipping pallets. Besides preventing ground-moisture contact that can ruin your stack's bottom layer, above-ground storage also allows the underside of the stack to breathe. Call or look around town to find businesses that disgard pallets.
Advantages Beyond Savings Time spent disposing of and replacing rotten or moldy hay.
Expense Just the gas to go pick up the pallets.
Savings If your bottom layer is at least half a ton (15 bales), you'll save at least $50 in lost hay.
Consider feeding beet pulp to your horses in lieu of grain mixes and a portion of their current hay ration. Two cups of dry beet pulp soaked overnight in a gallon of water translates into approximately 2 gallons of palatable, easy-to-digest feed; add this to each mature horse's meal, and cut his hay ration in half.
Advantages Beyond Savings Users swear beet pulp adds bloom to their horses without the excess-energy "high" of grain/molasses mixes; easy to transport and store in 50 pound bags.
Expense $8 per 50 pounds; lasts one horse 45 to 60 days, depending on the amount fed.
Savings $25 and up per month, per horse just in hay reduction. Supplement two horses' diets with beet pulp for 1 month and you'll have saved $50.
To save more dollars on hay, have your horse's teeth floated once a year.
Advantages Beyond Savings You'll help prevent dental discomfort in your horse.
Savings You'll pay for the floating and way more than $50 per year on feed your horse won't waste.
One more hay saver: Reduce waste by feeding hay from a ground-level manger. Use your old leaky water tank, make a box of planks, or affix a large plastic tub to the bottom rail of your fence.
Advantages Beyond Savings Your horse will graze off the ground as nature intended, and won't ingest sand or dirt.
Expense $10 for a sturdy plastic tub, if you don't have a container you can salvage.
Savings One-third of your hay bill; hay losses exceed 30% if forage is thrown on the ground and trampled.
Six More Economizers
Shine your show horse's unpolished hooves with clear, spray-on hoof-polish enhancer, and eliminate the cost of polish itself.
Advantages Beyond Savings Polish enhancer goes on faster and dries faster than bottled polishes; isn't messy; adds a great shine to any color hoof; won't visibly wick up and stain your horse's white legs; can't spill or shatter to ruin your new show outfit.
Expense $10.95 per can.
Savings $8.95 per bottle of polish, plus cost of ruined clothes!
Instead of a wheeled aluminum grooming supply carrier, buy one of the new rolling coolers or foot lockers.
Advantages Beyond Savings Keeps your stuff dust-free; doubles as extra seating when the lid is down.
Expense Under $40.
Savings More than $50; aluminum carriers cost about $100.
Use disposable baby diapers and reusable athletic bandages instead of gauze and disposable wraps when treating injuries.
Advantages Beyond Savings Diapers wick moisture from wounds; outside, plastic provides protection; self-sticking tabs help hold a diaper on your horse's leg until you can cover it with outer bandages.
Expense $10 for a box of 24 diapers and two reusable bandage rolls.
Savings $4 each time you change your horse's bandages.
If you just ride occasionally and your horse has no special hind-shoe needs, you can cut your farrier bill in half by having only your horse's front feet shod, instead of all four feet.
Advantages Beyond Savings Leaving the hind feet bare allows them to spread, increasing weight-bearing surface.
Expense $25 for "half shoeing".
Savings $25 per farrier visit.
Invest in at least one comprehensive horse-care book that covers basic injuries/illnesses with photos and how-to-diagrames, to help you know when to call a vet and when to save your money.
Advantages Beyond Savings You'll increase your horse-care knowledge.
Expense $35 for a top-quality book.
Savings If you avoid just one $85 vet bill, you'll pay for the book and save $50.
Treat thrush with Termin 8, a dry-rot preventive available at lumber stores.
Advantages Beyond Savings You'll have product on hand for treating barn-area wood.
Expense $8 per gallon.
Savings $46 per gallon (A pint of thrush product is $14, or $54 per gallon).
Reference Horse & Rider 8/97