A 1,000-pound horse produces about 40 pounds of manure a month. That’s about 7 tons a year. What’s a horse owner supposed to do with all of that?
Spreading manure on fields is a popular option, but not always the best one. Raw manure introduces parasite eggs to the land your horses may be currently or soon grazing on. And in warm, wet climates, parasite eggs can persist for many months on pasture, infecting horses the entire time. Unless you rotate and rest grazing spaces, or can spread manure on land where another species—like cattle—graze, you’ll probably want a better option.
Fortunately there at least two alternatives to consider:
This eco-friendly process harnesses the power of heat and bacteria turn a mountain of manure into a smaller pile of nutrient rich, parasite- and weed-free soil, perfect for lawns and gardens. There are a variety of ways to approach composting, depending on the space available and the amount of manure you’re dealing with, but the basic idea is to build a pile and let decomposition happen. Placing the pile on a concrete pad and contained by three or more walls, will speed up the process, as well covering the pile with dark tarp to trap heat. Wherever your compost pile is located, you’ll need to aerate it every week or two by “stirring” it with a shovel or a front-end loader if the pile is substantial. You can also aerate a compost pile by building it over and around a series of PVC pipes with holes along their length. If you live in a very arid climate, you may need to occasionally water your compost pile to keep the decomposition process going.
How long it takes will depend on many factors, but you’ll know your compost is “done” when it is uniformly dark brown, crumbly and has a pleasant earthy smell. At that point you can spread it, give it away or even charge people to come take it for their gardens.
Have it hauled away
Having someone to come take your manure away is one of the easiest disposal methods, but it may be costly. If you only have a few horses, you might be able to fill large garbage cans with manure and have those picked up by your regular refuse services.
Just call to verify that manure is allowable waste, however. If you have a large amount of manure to contend with you might want to investigate renting a larger dumpster to fill and have picked up periodically. There are companies that will haul manure away to commercial composting facilities, keeping it out of landfills. Contact the extension agent at a local land-grant university of conservation groups to identify any groups that might provide that service.