I'm starting my garden and my neighbors have horses.
Does horse manure make a good compost for the garden?
Are there any special steps I should take before using it?
Is it possible to use too much? I have really bad soil where almost
I located in the high desert of Az, 5500ft.
That's probably because horses have simple stomachs; they get to chew their
fodder only once, and have a one-stage digestive system. Ruminants chew
twice, therefore more finely, and food spends much more time in the acid
environment of the stomach, all of which is likely to break up seeds
machanically and destroy them chemically.
It can be seriously stale and broken down, and some grass seeds will
still come through. I've found you don't want even the most composted
horse manure IF the horse was fed bermuda grass hay -- unless the
object is to start a new bermuda grass lawn!!
What I've used in the past was well composted before I got it so I didn't
have problems with weeds, etc., but did get *lots* of earthworms! That
was absolutely 1-A.
Today, I received some good advice from someone who knows. With
reasonably fresh manure, put it in the chicken pen area, let the chickens
pick out all the seeds, worms, etc., then put it in the compost bin/area,
then to the garden in the spring/whenever. That way, there are no weeds
coming with it.
Bovine manure shouldn't have that problem since the grass/hay goes through
a more involved digestive process.
The soil here has a natural earthworm population of -- NONE. I've
managed to get some going in areas where I've added tons of organics
(worms need food, ya know).
I once read that about 75% of the average chicken's diet is -- chicken
manure. Which is exceedingly high in urea (hence the high nitrogen
component for our gardens :) Chicken manure is sold by big farms for
use in livestock feed (cattle can use the urea to produce protein).
Haha, depends what they eat. I've seen plenty of weeds come from cow
manure. Horses simply won't eat weedy hay the way ruminants will, so
your major problem with horse manure is usually grass seeds.
I suspect that a lot of the blame for "weed seeds in manure" comes
from the fact that weeds are seldom cleared away from the fringes of
manure piles, so are constantly seeding INTO the manure pile...
especially around the edges, where folk with a shovel and a pickup
truck are most likely to get their compost.
What everyone failed to mention to you in regards to horse manure :
If the horse's have recently been wormed, the manure will also kill any
worms you have in the garden if applied directly. Check with your neighbour
when they wormed their horses last. If recently, use the manure, but only in
a heated compost pile, not directly onto the garden.
To get your compost to heat up : Add a equal mixture of manure, dry leaves
straw etc, green manure such as grass clippings, water well and cover with
something. (plastic/paper/cardboard etc)
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.