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Cow, Horse, Alpaca Poop

Posted by jxa44 (My Page) on
Tue, Jan 27, 09 at 18:20

I posted this over on the rose forum, but i haven't really gotten much of a response. so i'm reposting here.

i used to go to local farms and stables to pick up horse, cow and alpaca poop. but recently we (I live in northern california) have had a scare with e-coli. so i've stopped picking up poop for two reasons -- e-coli and i'm concerned about the drugs they feed the animals. do these get excreted in the poop and then transferred to my soil as i "enrich" it?

I'd love to hear your feedback . . .

joyce


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Cow, Horse, Alpaca Poop

Animal manures should be properly composted before using them on your garden. What is the humus level of your soil now? What is the life in your soil like? How many earthworms do you see when digging in the soil? What is the tilth (workability) of your soil? How well does that soil drain? How well does that soil hold moisture? When was the last good, reliable soil test done?
Contact the local office of your state universities USDA Cooperative Extension Service about having a good, reliable soil test done so you know what your soils pH is and maybe what you might need to do to correct that. A good, reliable soil test is one tool too use to know what you need to know about your soil. Dig in with these simple soil tests,
1) Structure. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. A good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer you soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.
to see what your soil is like and what you need to do to make it better.


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RE: Cow, Horse, Alpaca Poop

thanx kimmsr for your comments.

I have been growing organically now for more than two decades. my soil is wonderful and friable.

my question really is more pointed. i've been thinking lately with all the problems in our area with e-coli in the soil, is that something i should be worried about when i pick up animal from the local farms manure for my garden. yes, i compost them, but when i do so am i moving the problems that exisit on the farms to my garden? i also have a well, am i possibly contaminating my well water with the run off from my compost?

i like to be as organic as possible, unfortunately, my neiboring farms (where i used to collect manures) are not. so I've pretty much abandoned collecting from them anymore, now buy organic chicken manure from my local nursery.

these are things that make me go hmmmm -- so i was wondering if anyone else might be thinking along these same lines.

the one answer i did get from the rose forum was to compost for 21 months before putting the manures in my garden. which seems a good idea -- but then there's that well water question . . .

joyce

p.s.

since i'm a home gardener, i don't get tons of manure. i used to cart it home in the back of my pickup truck. so many i shouldn't worry about such a small amount?


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Cow, Horse, Alpaca Poop hazards?

I hadn't had my morning coffee yet when i posted my response. below it my response reposted without typos (she says sheepishly :->)

joyce
--------
thanx kimmsr for your comments.

I have been growing organically now for more than two decades. my soil is wonderful and friable.

my question really is more pointed. i've been thinking lately that with the problems our area has been experiencing with e-coli in the soil, is that something i should be worried about when i pick up manure from the local farms? In other words, when i get free horse, alpaca or cow manure am i moving the problems that exist on the farms to my garden?

Additionally, I live on well water, so am i possibly contaminating my well water with the run off from my compost?

i like to be as organic as possible; unfortunately, my neighboring farms (where i used to collect manures) are not. so I've pretty much abandoned collecting from them anymore. now buy organic chicken manure from my local nursery.

so i was wondering if anyone else might have similar questions.

the one answer i did get from the rose forum was to compost the manure for 21 months before putting it in my garden. which seems like a good idea -- but then there's that well water question . . .

joyce

p.s.

since i'm a home gardener, i don't pick up tons of manure. i used to cart it home in the back of my pickup truck. so maybe i shouldn't worry about such a small amount?


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RE: Cow, Horse, Alpaca Poop

There is no need to compost manure for 21 months, some of the studies I have seen over the years indicate that any disease pathogens in manures will be killed off with hot composting in as few as 14 days. The current edition of Organic Gardening magazine has an article that says to compost animal manures, properly, or let it age for at least 12 months which is really a waste of the product since simply piling up manure and letting it "age" means most of the nutrients will simply escape to the atmosphere (that distinctive manure odor is those nutrients floating off) or being leached out by the rains unless that pile is well covered.
The only way I can get manure to compost is to haul it in a trailer pulled behind my van since I had to get rid of the pickup (age) a while back. While it is ood to be concerned about the potential disease pathogens in animal manures it is also not good to be paranoid about them. Know they are there and know how to protect yourself from potential infection by them. Compost that manure, practice proper personal hygiene, and do not put manure directly on garden soil, especially if foods are to be grown there.


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RE: Cow, Horse, Alpaca Poop

thanx for your comments kimmsr.

I guess i should have mentioned previously that I don't grow food crops -- just have perennial flower beds.

i really posted this message to get other opinions and thoughts. what got me scratching my head about this subject was all the press recently about our e-coli spinach scare -- where the e-coli was said to be in inside the vegetable. and the cause was said to be cow manure.

as for medicines in our soils, i was surfing the orgainic forum where they were talking about the virtues of human urine as fertilizer in the soil and one poster said this:

"one note of caution - is that urine can pass medecines or supplements that one might be consuming such as hormones, blood thinners, vitamins etc. generally the concentration is going to be so low its not a concern and the science is just underway on the decomposition and persistence of medecines wasted as such."

which leads me to believe that we *might* also be contaminating our soils by the medicines fed to the animals and then passed into their manures.

that said, i do use good personal hygiene and rather than say i was "paranoid", i would definitely said I am "concerned".

again, thanx for sharing your thoughts.

joyce


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