Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The scoop about scoops

A scoop is a scoop, right? Well, it depends who you ask. Poll three different people and you're likely to get three different answers. With some new staff members and new boarders at my barn, it's an issue that we recently had to deal with and one that I think is important to discuss. I had always been taught that 1 scoop = 2 quarts; this is the guideline we have used when feeding at Spring Hill and it's what I thought most horse people followed. Apparently that is not always the case:

Three different concepts of a "scoop." Which is correct?
These are standard two-quart scoopers. Which one contains a true scoop? The one filled over the top? The one filled level with the lip of the handle? Or the one filled to the 2-quart line?

The reason this issue recently came to light was that one owner politely left a note for us to make sure her horse was getting a half scoop of feed.....and then we discovered a scoop filled about halfway to the lip of the handle in her grain bin as a guide (FYI that is almost 2 quarts). The people I just started horse-sitting for are of the same mindset; when instructing me on how to feed each of their guys "one scoop" they demonstrated by filling a scooper until it was overflowing. 

The differences in this understanding could lead to a variance of more than 1/2 a quart in each horse's meal! Yikes! When we realized what was going on at Spring Hill, we left a nice reminder note for the owners and staff on how Spring Hill measures scoops (and a key on the scooper itself) to clear up any discrepancy.

The moral of the story? Always clarify "what's in a scoop?" I have no idea why we don't just measure in quarts - it's a standard unit of measure so no one would get confused - but tradition says that "scoops" is the preferred horse lingo so we'll go with it. Just make sure you always ask so everyone is on the same page. Your horse will thank you :)


  1. We don't go by "scoops" at my barn. We use a digital scale that measures by pound. I much prefer the accuracy of this method!!

  2. Marissa that would be so nice! I'd prefer that too if it was available.

  3. so true how different scoops can be. I marked out lbs on my scoop (with what i had been feeding) so I could tell others where to fill to in my absence.

  4. This is that Digital Scales are for and I feed by the pound! They have some nice inexpensive ones at target/walmart. :)

  5. You should actually weigh your feed...since all feeds have different density :)

  6. I agree that weighing your food is much more accurate. It would be really nice (and kinda fun, says Nerd Me) to have a digital scale at the barn for that purpose. If you do weigh your food, though, and can get an idea of the volume equivalent of that poundage, I think it is much easier on a daily basis to measure out in scoops instead. Plus I would be wasting more time than I'd care to admit during feed prep weighing any random thing I could find haha

  7. Great topic! I was always confused about how many quarts were in a scoop and how full that scoop had to be.