You simply can't buy shavings by weight. Don't misunderstand me, you can most certainly buy pine pellets and micro-flake shavings by weight. But when it comes to those curly and wavy pieces of wood, you simply can't use weight as an accurate measuring stick of quality. In fact, the complete opposite is true.
Walk down this road for me for a moment. If your goal is to get the most value for your money, usually you would try to buy the absolute largest quantity of any item for the lowest possible price. In most cases, this would mean that I am using weight as the term of measurement (even individually packed items still claim product weight). This technique of selling things by weight has been used for centuries to accurately measure products.
But when it comes to shavings, weight simply doesn't cut it. High quality shavings are sold by cubic feet and not weight. The reason for this is simple. VOLUME is the only way to accurately compare apples to apples when it comes to wood shavings. By using cubic feet as the term of measurment, we can accurately measure how much of the product you are really receiving in the bale. Unfortunately, it is still a flawed system, but it is a better option than weight. Why? A "shady" manufacturer can mix the shavings with smaller shaving pieces (called fines) and increase the weight of the bale quickly. This will increase bale weight, but will not help in stall coverage at all. The reality is that consumers needed a system to compare the multitude of shavings on the market, and so using cubic feet was determined as the best way to do this.
But, even using cubic feet is still a flawed system at best. In order to measure in cubic feet, you must calculate the length, width, and depth of coverage. So if you were buying a bagged shaving with 8 cubic feet of UNCOMPRESSED shavings, it should cover a 4' x 4' square at 6 inches deep. This measurement is taken when the flakes are uncompressed and fluffed. The problem with simply using cubic feet as the measuring stick is that smaller flake sizes cover much less area than bigger flakes, so larger flake sizes appear to stretch your dollar farther. There is still one major issue though; NEITHER weight or cubic feet actually matter what is most important to stall/pen maintenance; ABSORPTION.
Have I lost you yet? Crazy, I know. During the process of being "shaved" off the tree or lumber, the shavings are really wet. In order to dry them out, most shavings are "kiln dried" prior to bagging. But how much they are dried can be a highly speculative number. The amount of moisture is the most important number when it comes to the absorption level of the shavings. See the note below:
"A highly absorbent bedding is more likely to keep urine off the hooves, reducing associated hoof illness. It can also be useful if your fields are wet, as it will dry off the hooves better (constantly wet hooves are more prone to a variety of illnesses)."
Long story short, the next time you are looking at bagged shavings that are for sale locally, consider the much bigger cost of how many times you have to clean and muck the stalls or pens (thus replacing all the shavings). You will most likely find that even if it costs more upfront, a better quality (read: drier) shaving will last a lot longer in the stall or pen.
Pine River Bedding
Pine River Bedding Blog
Are you interested in what we have going on under the hood and behind the scenes?