navajo
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Horse manure and E-Coli?

As I was reading the MASSIVE thread about ACT, I was getting excited to try it out this Spring with some vermicompost and other "ingredients". But as I though more about spraying it on the leaves, I had a thought.

My red wrigglers came from a horse farm (aka - FREE! :D ) The bin I was going to use as the tea innoculant has been "working" for about a year and is just nice dark, fluffy, sweet smelling worm poop (and some food scraps still that will be sifted out), but my question is, does horse manure carry E-Coli and if so, could it still be viable and pose a problem? I realize that regular composting temps kill it, but does going through a worm's gut do the same?

Thanks for any insight!

Tom
Last edited by navajo on Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

Binkalette
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I would like to know about the ecoli too. Also, are intestinal parasites able to survive composting?

navajo
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Binkalette wrote:I would like to know about the ecoli too. Also, are intestinal parasites able to survive composting?
Hey Binkalette,

Looks like no one wants to tackle this one.

I'll let you know if I can dig up anything any where.

Thanks,

Tom

navajo
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Well I found this at https://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/michel/csu.pdf

"Final analysis indicated a significant reduction of fecal coliforms. All samples from
the test row were negative for E. coli, Salmonella spp., enteric virus and helminth ova.
Reductions of pathogens were observed in the control row. This reduction could have
been attributed to the natural die-off of the organisms. However, the reductions in the
test row were greater, which can be attributed to the vermicomposting process."

And then I found this..."In a study published in the April 2006 issue of the Indian Society of Hospital Waste Management Journal, a group of researchers led by Umesh Mathur, Principal Medical Officer at the Air Force Hospital in Bangalore, India, investigated the effect of vermicomposting on infected biomedical waste. Results from the study indicate that the vermicomposting process breaks down potentially dangerous biomedical waste matter containing pathogenic microorganisms, such as E. Coli and Staph aureus, into an "innocuous waste." After 12 weeks of vermicomposting, human pathogens ceased to survive in the compost product."

And another page at alove4horses that says there is no e. coli in horse manure. But on the same search, I found another page saying that horses CAN carry e. coli, so... Who knows?

Confusing!

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I don't want to be the one to say that it is a complete cure for E.coli, but I have seen test done on a commercial vermicomposter that did show a significant reduction of E.coli...

Here's the thing; in a properly living soil system, there are tens of thousands of protozoa in a gram, amoebae, and flagellates and cilliates, each eating 10 thousand bacteria a day. Add in the bacterial feeding nematodes, and the worms themselves, who do not gain sustainance so much from food stuffs as the creatures that are decomposing them, and you just never get to a population that dominates the system enough to make it imbalanced. We can deal with small amounts of E.coli no problem; there's millions of them in your gut as you read this.

Where do we find the worst strains of E.coli, the killers? Feed lots where the antibiotic in feeds and animals is high. Are your horses on antibiotic regimens? What about wormers? Some of those are pretty toxic... perhaps we need to worry more about other things than E.coli...

We must know what came out of the horse, but in a clean smelling, well digested compost (I would not use fresh; horses have a notoriously bad digeston and do not complete the job anywhere near as well as cows), should be fine. I hope it was a good hot compost because that bad digestion of theirs passes a lot of weed seed...

But E.coli is not the thing I'd be worried about...
Scott Reil

cynthia_h
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HG came close to the point I'd like to make...

Many of these studies do not specify the maximum temperatures which were achieved, nor for how long those temps were maintained, to produce the results discussed, whether regarding E. coli or other pathogens.

On the whole, I trust the composting process to take care of lots of nasty stuff. But there's a lot I won't put into my own BioStack because I know that *my* compost runs cold (less than 95 deg). If it were to achieve the high temps that many compost operations do (135 or higher), I could be more flexible about what went into it. *sigh* But, in the interest of safety, I send my weeds to a commercial operation in my yard waste.

And that's a lot of biomass. :(

Feedlots are indeed a very large source of E. coli. Where have those ground-meat recalls originated? In industrial meat factories, where the meat from hundreds of animals, slaughtered together in CAFOs, was ground together in (proved) unsanitary conditions.

I'm not a vegetarian, but to me these recalls say, "Know where your food comes from."

There was a problem maybe two years ago in the UK w/regard to horse manure--and this was a major scandal, given the love for gardening in the UK and the allotment system. An herbicide had been applied to many meadows whose hay was fed to horses. It didn't have an ill effect on the horses, but when the horses' manure was applied and allowed to stand on allotments over the winter, plants sickened and died the next spring. (I'll have to go find a citation to back this up....) I don't think said herbicide was ever used on this side of the Atlantic, but again, ask your source/stable whether the horses are on antibiotics, wormers, etc.

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cynthia_h
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Finally looked up the citation. The herbicide scandal erupted Spring of 2008, and it took until May/June of 2008 for all the pieces to be put together and a petition drive organized in the UK:

https://www.allotment.org.uk/garden-diary/257/aminopyralid-herbicide-residue-in-manure-killing-crops/

is a blog which seems to be well kept and responsible, reasonably non-inflammatory and factual, about the situation.

I don't know what the resolution was or whether, indeed, the situation has been resolved. Maybe some of our UK members can let us know?

Cynthia

navajo
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Sorry it took so long to get back. Work has been a bit nuts!

I really appreciate your feedback. I checked with the horse owner (friend of mine) and her horses haven't been on any antibiotics and are wormed around every 2 months. So should I be concerned about the dewormer? I mean, the worms (and a bit of broken down manure) were first put in the box about a year ago and the other soil I just used in the garden was what was at the bottom of the pile (old, dark, earthy).

As an aside, I didn't compost the manure. I got it from a "pile" of a friend. I assume it does compost to some extent, but the top most layers are nothing but red worms (MILLIONS of them! :D ). So, I am assuming I am in for some weeds this year! But since I am using modified square foot gardening, they should be easy to pull and I have 2 kids who are always "bored" during the summer break. :lol:

The concerns I am having are:

1. Since I used probably 1.5 gal of "old mostly decomposed manure" in a worm bin a year ago and then just kitchen scraps and newspaper, would you use it in ACT?

2. Are dewormers a concern after so long and after being processed through a worm?

3. Should I just go ahead and use it but not spray it on the plants?

4. Does plant uptake further "distill" any problem components (antibiotics, dewormer, e. coli, etc)?

Again, I really appreciate your taking time to provide your input. (I'm still a bit confused, but it is getting a little clearer!).

Tom

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Being a horse-nut my entire life, riding lessons, horse summer camps, owning my own mare & I worked for two year in a horse barn. I've probably eaten more then my fair share of horses-poop particles over the year. I've never gotten sick from the horses.

I did once get sick with e.coli at a non-horse summer camp from the other kids - that was NOT fun!!

While I'm not too big on the idea, I do know some old horse women who will handle a stray poop or two bare-handed. I've never known any of them to get sick because of it either.

Hope that helps, even if it was way more then you wanted to know ;).

ETA:

Exposure to air/light should kill off any internal horse-parasites, but there are good reasons you don't want to use it fresh.

Also: if you've got puppies watch out - they definitely consider the poops to be tiny round treat balls, yum! yum!
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

navajo
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Thanks for the real world observations, nes.

Don't worry, you can't run me off with poop talk either. :lol:

I was digging through the pile to get the worms bare handed. That's why they make soap and water.

I've decided to stop worrying and just go on with it. I wasn't too concerned anyway, mostly just curious.

PS: MY FIRST PLANT CAME UP IN THE GARDEN TODAY! :clap:

firstimegardener
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As far as the dewormer goes, this is what I was taught growing up. I grew up with horses, and we were always told by the vet that you cannot use horse poop that has dewormer in it for your garden. Dewormer is NOT good for you. We wormed our horses every couple of months and we never put it on our garden (I think we only had a garden maybe 2 times in my life)
Anyway, that's what I was taught, but it was close to 15 years ago now, so things could have changed!

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So we are all agreeing don't use fresh manure in the garden.

As long as we are talking about composted manure (whether vermicomposting or regular), it seems like for dewormers or bacteria or whatever was originally in the manure to have any harmful effect on people, it has to

1) survive the composting process
2) survive in the soil
3) be uptaken by the plant
4) survive in the plant long enough to be consumed by the person


Seems pretty unlikely.

The e-coli outbreaks from salads etc have been when fecal contaminants have been sprayed directly on leaves.
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While I agree with RBG that the E.coli danger in a compost is low, I still do not find such conclusive guarantees of safety from the dewormers...

HG
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I wonder how horse care was before dewormers.

I'm not being facetious.

Also, e coli - how scary is it? Is it a big threat in beef, for instance, if cows are not slaughtered in massive operations involving many animals, with bits of intestine flying all over the place?

A bit of tea with a bit of e coli sprayed on broccoli a few days before harvest - is that dangerous? Is there a doctor in the house?
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The really deadly strains have all been connected to CAFO operations, not composting. I have only rarely seen compost or tea with zero counts (possible); the standard for swimming areas is the same standard for tea applications up to the day before, if memory serves...

HG

PS [url=https://www.usawaterquality.org/volunteer/Ecoli/June2008Manual/Chpt2_ecoli.pdf]This might help[/url]
Scott Reil

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nes
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Toil wrote:I wonder how horse care was before dewormers.
I love answering horse-questions so I'll try to keep this brief so I don't bore everyone... .

When you deworm a horse, you aren't trying to kill all of the worms in their digestive tract, just manage the ones that are there. Because horses evolved as a plains-dwelling animal, constantly on the move, worms are not a big issue in wild horses. The leave some behind in their poop, but generally move on and so they aren't constantly picking more and more worms up when they come back to graze near fresh poop.

That is the problem with domesticated horses. We are keeping them in a confined area where they are grazing in close proximity to their own or their friend's fresh poo where they pick up new worms.

How often you deworm depends on your management practices are there are a few cases which reduce/eliminate your need to deworm frequently:

- pasture rotation, where you allow the horses access to only a smaller area of a large pasture (with electric fencing) or have several large fenced paddocks, then rotate them from one to the other monthly/weekly. This lets the the grass have a chance to rest & grow and the poops to break apart & dry out - killing the worms.

- in cases where the horses have LARGE pastures (50+ acres depending on number of horses), except for commonly-used areas like around water-troughs, the poops will be spread out over a large areas, again causing them to dry out & kill the worms.

- companion animals such as sheep & cows can help to reduce the parasite-load (/the number of worms in a paddock) in a given pasture.

I could go on... but this is a gardening forum ;).
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

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Nes, that was topical and informed and the rotational grazing issue is really greaat stuff, as is the domestication part of it....

Creatures know what plants to eat far better than we do; chimps and apes are known to eat a variety of plants not for food values but to sweep worms and other parasites out of their systems. Animals raised on biodiverse tall grass prairie rather than moncultural pasture crops will get far more roughage, mineral content, and overall nutrition, including plants that can poison or dislodge parasites...

HG
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so what questions should I ask if if someone offers and I feel the need to look gift horse poop in the mouth?
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cynthia_h
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My initial thought was, If compost worms are wiggling all around in it, the dewormer must have decayed sufficiently for them to thrive.

Not so?

Horse people?

Cynthia

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That's exactly right cynthia. If the dewormer is still active the worms in the bin would have not done well assuming they survived at all. If you visit a manure pile at a barn where the horses are on a daily dewormer regimine you will find next to no worms. Paste dewormers that most people give are out of the animals system within 24-72 hours.

navajo
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WOW! Lots of good info here!

Thanks to everyone who has contributed.

So, if I am reading all of this right (and other research as I have had the time), as long as the horse manure is pretty old, has been spread out in sunlight, and been vermicomposted, it should be okie doke for use?

The ONLY fresh(ish) poop I have used was a couple od road apples in my barrel composter when filling it with other stuff for composting.

As I said, the horse manure that went into the worm beds was what they were already in when digging them up from the older area of the lot.

Anyway, I really appreciate everyone's time and effort!

Happy Gardening!

Tom

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As long as it got hot enough to kill all the weed seed horses pass, yes to all the above...

HG
Scott Reil

navajo
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:As long as it got hot enough to kill all the weed seed horses pass, yes to all the above...

HG
Thank you Sir! GREAT forum you have put together here and everyone is VERY nice and helpful!

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Thanks! :D
Scott Reil

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