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Creative Ideas for Bulk Shavings Storage?

We have 16 horses stalled at our farm and unfortunately do not have a good place for a waterproof shed for storing bulk shavings. We have been using bagged shavings and the cost is killing us. All of the locations where we could logistically put a concrete pad and big enough storage shed are too far from the barn to be efficient for the barn staff. We are in the northeast and thus have to deal with snow plowing and snow banks which would make deliveries of bulk shavings even more challenging.

Does anyone use a dump trailer to pick up and store shavings? The appeal of this is that we could move it around when having to deal with snow etc. If so, what size and type do you use? How do you keep the shavings dry? Do they freeze into a solid mass in the winter?

Would it be a better idea to convert a stall to shavings storage? Any other ideas that we should consider?

we have local suppliers who will deliver shipping containers of bulk shaving, leave the container then pickup when empty


Local cabinetmaker was providing FREE sawdust shavings during their busy season.
Neighbor & I would line his flatbed with wood “walls” with a heavy plastic tarp.
Cabinet guy would use a forklift to dump huge plastic containers into the trailer.
We’d bungee the tarp over the shavings so they wouldn’t blow away as we drove.
For me, we’d fill 50gal garbage cans with lids & put them in the truckbed.
Friend left the trailer parked & tarped at his barn until empty.
Could you do the same with your bulk purchase?

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Following, as my current situation has gotten extremely frustrating and I am looking for a new way. One suggestion my SO had was to buy an old stock trailer, cut the roof off, have bulk shavings dumped in, tarp it, and then just park it until we used it up. Still looking for a cheap stock trailer…


Remember, that anything you park outside will get covered in snow during those snow events. Which makes using the shavings more difficult.

It is also more time for the staff to clean, because accessing and shoveling loose bedding is a time user.

Depending on where you get your bulk shavings, the wood might not be kiln dried, which means the bedding has a certain amount of moisture in it.

I think leaving them in a trailer, if you have a good place to park it and are prepared for the snow annoyance, would work.
The only downfall is that you can’t get more shavings until these shavings are used up. That could be a scheduling issue.


I have a friend that uses a dumpster to store shavings and one for used shavings.

She built a cover for it and seems to work well. She had 25+ horses. I use bagged shavings since I only have 3 horses.

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Just be very careful if you get bulk shavings from a small business unfamiliar with horses. I was at a barn that used shavings from a pallet manufacturer. The only wood on the premises was pine. Until an employee used the equipment on a weekend to cut some cherry for a personal project. Four horses foundered and one died. The barn owner was sued.

A trailer sounds like a great idea but you would need to rig a snow proof roof. A shavings stall is very convenient but dusty and how would you load it? Extra handling costs in man hours. Do you have an indoor? Shavings could go on a tarp in the center or in a corner. Not ideal but doable.

It would also be worth keeping track of how much shavings (volume) you use in a week. That will help you make realistic storage plans. If you buy an x cubic foot trailer trailer and spend y hours a week picking up shavings, how much are you saving over bagged. Best of luck!


OP, do you already own a dump trailer? Or will you plan to purchase one and dedicate it to handling shavings?

There are mulch companies here that own large trucks with blowers and long hoses. They can fill up your beds with mulch very quickly. Interesting thought if one could show up every week or so and blow shavings into all your stalls.


Worth repeating!
Friend almost lost her horse to laminitis when barn’s usual supplier brought in a load that contained some black walnut :skull_and_crossbones:
Another local supplier has pine only, but milling leaves some pretty good-sized hunks of wood intact in the load.


I have never heard of Cherry being a problem for horses.
Are you sure of the wood type? Could it have been black walnut?

Choke cherry is toxic if the wilting leaves are eaten, per google.

The pallet company (all oak) that the people in my part of the world get bulk sawdust from KNOW that they can’t have any strange woods in there because they make a small fortune selling their sawdust to horse people.

It is a good thing to remind people about though, to make sure supplier knows their market and keeps things safe.


Yes. It was cherry and a very small percentage of the load.

The barn where I boarded outside had 19 stalls. She got sawdust by the dumptruck load from a local lumber mill. It was in a pile on top of some stall pads behind the barn with a blue tarp over it. We live in southern Maine and worked okay.

I went to a couple of clinics where the BO closed up the front of a stall and put a dog door type opening down low so you could shovel them out. The outside had an opening that the supplier used to blow the shavings into the stall to fill it up. It seemed to work reasonably well.

We are lucky and have a mill about 10 mins away from us. Their main business is cutting large logs (pine only) into 2 x 4’s, 2 x 6’s etc, but the wood is fresh and wet. We do purchase shavings from them and use our dump trailer to go and get them - a lot of locals use them for their horse stalls.

We keep the shavings beside our barn under our lean to. Our tractor stays on the other side. The lean to is built directly off the barn (stone bank barn), is about 20ft high (tin roof on a slope), 16ft deep and about 30ft wide. We sectioned off one end for shavings only, its about 8ft wide, 16ft deep and 20ft high.

My husband dumps the shavings just outside of the area (which is crushed ashphalt) and uses the tractor to push it into the lean to. He piles it up high (about 10ft or higher) and I can’t remember the yardage he gets, but it lasts my 4 stalls about 3-4 months. Price is amazing as its about $300 a dump trailer now (a few years ago it was $150), but so much cheaper than bags.

The thing is its a bit wet, as its freshly milled, so you do have to be careful. We check the inside of it often to ensure it doesn’t get too hot (it gets warm in the summer, but not that hot) and in the winter, it will freeze solid. We use the tractor to pre break it up for me into chunks, or if I happen to have an empty stall, I will stock pile it into there for me as our barn doesn’t freeze. The chunks do thaw through the day so when I bring in, the shavings are perfect. They are not dripping wet of course, just damp from being milled from fresh wood.

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When I was in Florida the barn owner got the black tarps they put over the strawberry beds to cover large loads that were dumped. That worked well. Don’t know how good it’d be up north. But the tarps did a great job keeping shavings dry during the monsoons

I’m in the NE, and years ago, I bought loose shavings. I built a three sided area on my driveway (which is stone in that area), adjacent to the barn, and had the shavings dumped in there. I used stockage fence, but now if I did it again, I’d use the vinyl stockade. I put a tarp over top, and it worked well enough. There was a bit of loss, but I could also mix the damp shavings in, and it kept the dust down.

Regarding cherry, freshly cut cherry is deadly for horses- the bark, and the leaves contain cyanide. Once completely dried out, the cyanide is apparently inactive. I have a cherry tree on the perimeter of my place, and I keep an eye on it, particularly after storms.

Can you post pictures of the outside of your barn? I’m thinking is there absolutely no way to build something right there handy that a truck can back up to and dump? I have that in my new barn and
it’s absolutely priceless. I built a 14x14 with a garage door and an inside door the to the aisle.

I wonder how long the breakeven is to where it pays for itself - whatever you figure out and do.

I buy bulk shavings and put them directly in the stalls, banked really high on the walls. Then I just pull down fresh shavings as I need them. It’s a big job when I need to bring in fresh shavings (about once a month), but it really saves time for daily cleaning when I don’t have to shovel and wheel fresh shavings. This might not be a great solution if you have horses that are very active in their stalls.

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when we did have bulk shaving just dumped near the barn we had a military surplus parachute that was used to cover the pile to keep the wind from blowing the shavings into the next county

I do not own a dump trailer but have been looking to buy a used high side 7x14 dump trailer. The cost around $10k and if it doesn’t work well for me, I could always sell it for about the same amount. It would be at least $30-40K to pour a concrete pad on the backside of our arena and build a tall shed with overhead doors - one side for shavings and the other could be used to store tractor implements, etc. The latter solution would be ideal but just more lead time to get done and a chunk of capital that I would prefer to spend on other things right now.