Most of us take our barn wheelbarrows and carts for granted. We grab them when we need them and don’t give them another thought — at least until they annoy us.
A wheelbarrow that’s prone to tipping isn’t fun. It’s also a pain when it isn’t big enough for the job at hand or the stuff you’re hauling simply won’t fit comfortably. If only manufacturers could come up with one cart that could do it all and wouldn’t break the bank.
That’s not going to happen. You probably need at least two carts: one for cleaning stalls and one for everything else. It’s almost impossible to clean the manure wheelbarrow well enough for hauling grain or hay. And you don’t want to toss your tack in there. You need to prioritize your needs and then add a second cart when you can.
You should maintain your cart after you make the investment. Rinse it out after use and periodically retighten all the screws and bolts. Check tire pressure before you get a flat. Follow manufacturer maintenance instructions closely, as they’re in place to help you maximize the life of your equipment.
We put a variety of carts to the test over the better part of a year and found some innovative designs that will make short work of many barn chores. We used a number of carts in a variety of styles and found they fit varying tasks well. When we finished, we thought about the products we reached for most often in our daily chores.
• The Agri-Fab company’s #45-01772 Garden Cart is huge and can hold a load up to 400 lbs. It has 26” diameter spoked pneumatic tires with large tubular handles. Its painted wooden body helps resists corrosion. This large cart measures 34” wide x 50” long and has a 14-cubic-foot cargo capacity. It’s the perfect choice for moving hay, shavings bales and other large cargo, due to its rectangular shape and large capacity. It also has a handy removable front panel.
However, since it’s not as easy to dump or keep clean as a poly cart, we weren’t keen on it for cleaning stalls. It has an open back, so you can’t fill it with a lot of loose material, like shavings or oats. The handles are attached to the lower part of the cart, which is great for loading, but can be a bit of a bend when it comes to moving it. Overall, this garden cart is well-made with attention to detail. Approximately $290.
• The Agri-Fab #45-0274 Poly 10 Convertible Push/Tow Dump Cart has a hitch that can be folded or unfolded so it can convert into a push cart or a tow cart used behind your lawn tractor (it comes with a hitch pin). It can haul up to 650 lbs., when you’re towing it, and comes with an easy-to-use latch for dumping. The 30” x 45” x 12” bed is one-piece poly that’s easy to clean. The tires are 16” x 4” pneumatic rib.
Whether we were towing it or using it as a push dump cart, we found this cart easy to use and handy. We could haul shavings or do stalls with ease. It’s very well made, and easy to dump, whether by hand or by using the quick latch. We really love the versatility afforded by this cart and found many uses for it, especially as a handy tow cart. Approximately $290. Contact: www.agri-fab.com, 217-728-8388.
• Cygnet Livestock Equipment & Accessories Co.’s $38.95 Muck Bucket Dolly is an inexpensive option. Its powder-coated welded steel wire and tube frame is treated with a corrosion inhibitor for durability. It has steel-rimmed 10-inch diameter wheels, and the handle is 39” high. The dolly holds a standard muck bucket, which you’ll need to purchase separately. Cygnet’s solid construction is excellent. We wouldn’t want to use any muck-bucket dolly for really big jobs, but it’s excellent for shows, smaller barns or as an economy backup to your main barn cart.
• The Cygnet Two-Tier Saddle Rack, however, will find a spot in both your daily routine and at shows. Made with the same top-quality construction and materials as the Cygnet dolly, this Rolling Basket is a godsend.
You can load up tack, wraps, brushes, bottles, boots and helmet and wheel it out to where you groom and tack up your horse, then wheel it back to the tack room.
With two baskets and a top saddle rack (sold separately), it ends those multiple trips carrying equipment from the tack room to the crossties. It’s easy to maneuver, even over grassy areas, and it holds a lot of equipment in its 18 ??” x 13 ??” baskets. The saddle insert extends 14 ??” above the top basket, so you can easily reach the basket without removing the insert. We’d add a whip tube, but other than that, this $79.90 hauler with saddle rack is worth the price. Contact: www.horsequip.com 866-987-0722.
• We’ve got to be honest here. When the Ranch Handler arrived, both its looks and its $135 price made us skeptical. That concern quickly disappeared, however, when we put it to work. While you’ll probably also think “pricey muck bucket dolly,” when you see it, just pull on the web apparatus to empty the tub and you’ll no longer compare the two.
The Ranch Handler is easy to dump and lets you stay clean while you do it. It’s well balanced and self leveling — we never spilled anything. We had no trouble wheeling it anywhere, as it was incredibly maneuverable.
The frame is steel with a protective powder coating. It has 12” pneumatic tires. We used it with the recommended Little Giant Duraflex 1 ??-bushel muck bucket from Miller Manufacturing. However, you can also get an attachment that allows you to easily haul and dispense water and a carry-all rack for larger items, like a bale of hay. The Ranch Handler easily disassembles for traveling. Although pricey, this cart is a top choice with great versatility, despite its relatively small capacity. Contact: www.american-flex.com, 570-723-5937.
• We used two of Rubbermaid’s Big Wheel Carts: the #5654 with a 200-lb./3.4 cubic-foot capacity and the #5642 with a 300-lb./7.5 cubic-foot capacity. Both are one-piece impact-resistant heavy-duty solid carts. They’re both easy to clean and dump, and the polyester beds won’t rot or rust. We found both easy to push with a solid level of versatility.
We especially liked the large cart as an excellent all-around barn cart with multiple uses. The smaller cart was a bit small for cleaning stalls but well-suited for general hauling and as a feed cart. Its small size also makes it a good choice for shows, for those of us who aren’t thrilled with muck buckets.
Both carts were well-made, not easily tipped over, and rolled easily, a breeze to maneuver. The large cart retails at approximately $290, while the smaller model is around $200. Contact: www.rubbermaid.com, 888-895-2110.
Scenic Road Mfg.
• The 800-lb. Gorilla Wheelbarrow SRLJ-2 has a 10-cubic-foot capacity but is only 32& rdquo; wide, so it will easily maneuver in and out of virtually any space. The manufacturer says it holds 800 lbs. It’s made of a one-piece molded polyethylene bed, one-piece long hardwood handles and powder-coated all-steel undercarriage, rigidly fastened with solid construction.
The wheels are 16” steel-rim ball-bearing with pneumatic tires. Note we said “wheels.” This is the best part: Two front tires make it extremely well-balanced and resistant to tipping over, even when pushed by a nosey horse.
We were impressed by its capacity and ease of dumping. We did everything with this wheelbarrow, from hauling rocks and sand to cleaning stalls. It cleaned like a breeze and showed little wear. This is one of the best wheelbarrows we’ve used. $189.12. Contact: 717-768-7300.
Frankly, you can probably find a use for every one of these carts. We were most impressed by the Agri-Fab convertible cart for its versatility, the Cygnet Rolling Saddle rack for its handiness, the Ranch Handler for its ingenious design and the Scenic Road wheelbarrow for its construction and ease of use. Overall, the Scenic Road two-wheel wheelbarrow comes out on top and earns our Best Buy award.
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