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Choosing a Muck Rake or Manure Fork
A Tool You Will Spend Many Hours Using
Whether you own one horse or fifty the most indispensable tool in your barn is the muck rake. You might think you can go into the farm supply and pick up any ole muck rake, but I beg to differ with you. Stop and think how many hours you and that muck rake are going to be spending with each other. Do you want a metal or wooden handle? Do you want steel or plastic tines? How many tines, how long a handle, basket or no basket design.
I interviewed a few barn managers to get their thoughts on muck rakes, aka manure forks or apple pickers. .Some liked the rakes with metal tines that are placed close together. Some like the metal handle because it is lighter, others prefer the wooded handle because it doesn't get cold in winter and is easier to grip. Believe it or not high tech has come to this lowly tool, and I found some new innovations in muck rakes. The choices become even more interesting. Look in any horse supply catalog or Google muck rake or manure fork and you'll find out I am telling you the truth.
DuraFork has been around a while, we've all heard of this brand. The new DuraFork Ergonomic Manure Fork I found interesting. It retails for $23 and claims to relieve some of the strain associated with mucking stalls. DuraFork heads are made from polycarbonates for strength and flexibility, and they come in assorted colors. You can buy the head only if you have a headless handle sitting in the corner of the barn. The DuraPitch comes in two sizes, has angled tines, and a basket to prevent manure from falling off the fork.
Another fork, FYNA-LITE, is made by a British manufacturer but also available in the United States. The FYNA-LITE is made of spring steel tines and is said to be virtually unbreakable. The space between the tines is 5/8 inch. The FYNA-LITE Rubber Matt Fork won a BETA Innovation award. The tines are rounded so you can pick up manure and bedding without poking and damaging rubber stall mats.
The Future Fork by Animal Healthcare is another well-known manure fork. The head is lightweight polymer. The tines are 16 inches long with four triangular side tines to help keep the poop on the fork. It has a one-year warranty and comes in six colors.
For miniature horse owners there is the Jeffer's mini-manure and bedding fork. I don't understand why the handle is only 36 inches long. Just don't think those mini-horses are going to clean their own stalls, and I don't like having to bend my back to work with that short handle. Those mini-forks are perfect for the youngster to use as they learn the reality of horse ownership. Then for the mini-poops try the Fine Tine Stall Fork with thirty tines. It is designed for use in stalls bedded with pellets or sawdust, but will also keep those tiny poop balls from falling off.
So, don't take shopping for a manure fork so lightly next time. There is much to consider when choosing that tool you will be using at least daily.