Horse Manure for Plants

a2zmom(6a - nj)June 12, 2010

I know some of you use horse manure as a compost. Well, I just realized there are stables in my town (how I never noticed before is beyond me.)

So, some questions.

Does it have to age? In which case, do you bring it home and let it "mature" for while? How about weed seeds? or isn't that an issue?

It occurs to me that I have reached the point where I am willing to shovel sh*t for my plants.

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well composted manure is a very good fertilizer for plants. It has to be completely composted which means it may take to 2 years to completely break down. The reason is fresh manure is too hot and can burn plants. Second because manure contains seeds and if not completely composted these seeds will germinate and you get weeds in your garden beds. The composting process heats ups and kills off the harmful seeds in the process.

Certainly if you have a spot where you can pile the fresh manure to compost further - take home as much manure as you get.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 6:36PM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

Ianna, would it be ok to add to my compost bin? Or should I keep it separate?

And what about the smell? I don't want to neighbors to come after me with pitchforks, lol!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 7:35PM
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Boy, do I WISH you were my neighbor. I could keep you very well supplied with horse manure, both fresh and aged. We have 37 horses, and they work non-stop at supplying manure:) Needless, to say, I use the aged on all my flower beds, and never have had any problems with weeds.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 8:09PM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

That would be fantastic!

I live on a half acre in a town that's listed as half suburban/half rural since there are still a few farms in the area.

Three seven horses. Wow! That's a lot of horse poop!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 8:30PM
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sure. mix it in your compost or rather mix your compost into it. And use only after complete decomposition. The only thing is, green and brown compost breaks down in shorter amount of time than manure..

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 9:22PM
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silverkelt(Z5b/Southern Maine)

I add it fresh or dry to the beds.. just dont add it to your fresh to your veggie garden, or herb, as pathegons need to be broken down.. other than that, top dressing around the base isnt going to anything to the plant.. we had this out a few years ago at the antique rose forum..

Link to nitrogen ratio of fresh manures...

manure nitrogen link

No need to allow the nutrient release of the manure to be wasted.. fresh manure isnt high in nitrogen as long as the urea has been allowed to dry.. I wouldnt put fresh urea into the garden.. but Ive found horse manure to dry out fairly fast... I top dressing of it would need to be reapplied yearly, even if its fairly fresh.. This is my own personal experience, among many others.. if you believe differently, please act as you please =)... (AGAIN do not put fresh cow or horse next to edibles!)I put it in the veggie garden after I harvest usually, allow to break down over the winter and spring 5-6 months , enough time to kill the pathogens and ok to plant in then..


    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 9:48PM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

Ianna, maybe it would make more sense to keep two bins going. One just for horse manure. Also, I would think a bin would keep the smell to a minimum.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 9:54PM
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lisa33(6b Bucks County PA)

Maybe I am biased because I am a horse person, but horse manure doesn't have that strong of an odor--not like cow manure. I wouldn't want it in my kitchen, but I wouldn't worry about it smelling up my compost.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 11:16PM
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dawiff(z7 WA)

Just have to say I like the smell of horse manure too. It is much nicer than the smell of rotting vegetable trimmings, by far!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 11:36PM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

Silverkelt, thanks so much for that info!

Veggies are not a worry - I have too many deer and bunnies to try edibles. (Some day, when I can afford to pull down the Norway maple in my back yard, I'll fence it in and then try growing yummies to eat.)

And Lisa and Dawiff, good to know that my neighbors won't ostracize me! I currently am spreading cut grass on a new bed and that has a fairly raunchy smell. I doubt it's worse.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 12:02AM
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I used manure on my garden for the first time this year. I think I read somewhere that it doesnt take long for HM to compost. Mine was mostly crumbly brown stuff, with some bits of green. I built raised beds, with 6" boards, no bottom, Tilled up the top 2-3" and filled the rest of the way with HM, and tilled everything in. I planted in them within a couple of weeks without problems.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 3:00PM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

Silverkelt and Tammyinwv, so no issue with weeds seeds when using unaged manure?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 9:22PM
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daislander(Van. Island B.C Z 8)

Silverkelt hit everything. I tilled in 7 yards of unaged and aged into a border I was making and planted right away no problem, Theres always a bit of extra straw I think from the the floor that gets swept up into it so if therea any seeds mabey from that? I didnt have a problem. Need to do it again. Nice to start a few bins so you always have spring and fall. Nice to find a source that will load it with a little backhoe for you. Shoveling into the truck is a pain the butt.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 9:56PM
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The only weeds I seem to be havingin the potager is a type of grass. Not much. But that could be caused by the tilling of my top soil in with it. In the main pile of HM i have, there is very little growing on it.I needed to have killed my grass with plastic or paper before filling with HM, but I really didnt have time this yr. I also top dressed my established flower beds with it. I really think that helped keep down the weeds. I will certainly use it again.My garden has looked the best ever.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 7:45AM
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silverkelt(Z5b/Southern Maine)

No, Nothing more than a scattered shoot here and there.. I just pull..


    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 8:35AM
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Several years ago I got some horse manure from a friend. He said it was aged a bit, but it was still clumpy and definitely not completely broken down. I was told that HM was fine to use even when fresh, so I topdressed a bed with it. I had terrible weed/seed problems from it! I pulled nutgrass and other things I couldn't identify for a long time. I was bummed. lol!

The next time I got manure it was being emptied from a winter barn, and was definitely too fresh to use. I added it to my compost bin and it was awesome! broke everything down fast and the resulting compost was rich, dark, and beautiful in no time.

I just got more HM from another friend who said it was aged at least a year or two in big piles. He said it's perfect to use now, so I'm trusting him. It's beautiful stuff! haven't seen any weed seeds germinate in it yet (crossing all fingers now :)

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 9:29AM
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I've only used well rotted manure in my garden, whether that is from horse, sheep or cow. This is largely because I don't want to risk weeds and because I don't want to burn my young tender perennials. In an established bed, weeding can be difficult. I imagine in a vegetable bed which can be tilled completely, weeds are more easily removed. However, after reading up other's experience here I thought I would look into the subject of raw manure further. And after reading this article, it only firmed up my practice on using well rotted manure. I learned it's much more richer for less the amount of labour. I can imagine what weeds would be like if you apply it to a large garden. One doesn't know what that horse eats - not to mention the hay that gets mixed in the manure.

This is a caption I found in Mother Earth News - a magazine I rely on for organic gardening.

"Manure can be incorporated into soil when it's in one of three stages: fresh ... rotted (partially composted) ... or fully composted. If worked into the ground when raw, animal waste is least likely to lose any of its valuable nutrients, but it's also very heavy to handle in its uncomposted form, and sometimes too rich to be useful to plants. In fact, some fresh droppings (those of horses and chickens, for example) are so rich in raw nitrogen that they can bum tender young vegetation. Therefore, it's a good idea, if possible, to store manure for several months prior to using it ... to give it a chance to ferment. (You could also plow the material into your garden in the fall, so that it'll have time to compost prior to spring planting.)

Rotted manure will be about half its original weight ... which means-in turn-that, its nutrients are more concentrated: A ton of rotted excrement is about twice as rich as is a ton of fresh droppings. Fully composted manure is only one-eighth its original weight, and therefore eight times as rich ... but complete composting of animal waste is an expensive and timeconsuming process.

Before you reach for the shovel and the hoe, anxious to put your barnyard "vegetable vittles" to work, there are a few last-minute questions you ought to know the answers to. [1] How do animal fertilizers compare with manufactured ones? [2] How fast does manure release nutrients into the soil? [3] Finally, how much animalproduced plant food will various crops need?

To begin with, you can assume that a ton of manure is roughly equivalent to 100 pounds of packaged fertilizer. For example, 1 ton of fresh horse or steer leavings (with bedding)which contains about 10 pounds of nitrogen, 5 pounds of phosphorus, and 10 pounds of potassium-is more or less equal to 100 pounds of commercially made 10-5-10 soil supplement. On the other hand, 2,000 pounds of dairy cow or pig excrement is slightly less nutritious ... while the same amount of poultry droppings (equaling about 100 pounds of 25-15-10 fertilizer) is a great deal more valuable. And keeping in mind that rotted waste is twice as potent as raw, 1 ton of fermented equine or bovine manure is comparable to 100 pounds of 20-10-20.

As to the rate at which chemicals are released into the ground, the general rule is that most manures let go about half their "vitamins" during the first year ... around 25% the next ... close to 12.5% the third ... and so on. Two exceptions, both of which release the bulk of their nutrients within the initial 12 months, are cow dung (75%) and hen droppings (about 90%)................"

The article is long and if you are interested here's the link

Here is a link that might be useful: Making most of manure

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 10:13AM
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Hi,I purchased some year old horse manure with worms off Trade Me,I was a bit disapointed as it still had and odour and is all clumpy?I googled aged manure and i has no reasemblence,its all in bags 20 has anyone got an idea what i could do?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 10:53AM
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opinions- what about decently fresh HM on the bottom half of raised beds, not tilled in? I have new raised beds that are almost two feet tall (yeai know but I've got bad legs and the hubs wanted me to be able to sit). so what do you guys think of filling the bottom 1/3-1/2 with HM? my moms got horses but no composted stuff, so it would have to be fresh. also, I have a child care at my house and can't leave large amounts of manure around to compost. I feel like putting it in the bottom where it won't really be used for a long time wouldn't hurt anything? but I'm relatively new to compost, I usually just use leaves and kitchen scraps

    Bookmark   January 31, 2015 at 7:01PM
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