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RE: using manures in the garden

How common manures measure up
Manure Chicken Diary Cow Horse Steer Rabbit Sheep
N-P-K 1.1 .80 .50 .25 .15 .25 .70 .30 .60 .70 .30 .40 2.4 1.4 .60 .70 .30.90

Chicken manure
Poultry manure (chicken in particular) is the richest animal manure in N-P-K. Chicken manure is considered "hot" and must be composted before adding it to the garden. Otherwise, it will burn any plants it comes in contact with.

Dairy (cow) manure
Dairy Manure may be the single most useful soil-builder around. Dairy manure from healthy cows is just about perfect for garden use; it can be used as a topdressing and for soil improvement. Dairy manure is preferable to steer manure, which has a higher salt and weed seed content. Though cow manure has low nutrient numbers, that's what makes ist safe to use in unlimited quantities.

Horse manure
Horse manure is about half as rich as chicken manure, but richer in nitrogen than cow manure. And, like chicken droppings, it's considered "hot". Horse manure often contains a lot of weed seeds, which means it's a good idea to compost it using a hot composting method.

Steer manure
Steer manure is one of the old standbys, but it's not the most beloved because it often contains unwanted salts and weed seeds.

cow manure organic fertilizer

Rabbit manure
Rabbit manure is even higher in nitrogen than some poultry manures and it also contains a large amount of phosphorus--important for flower and fruit formation.

Sheep manure
Sheep manure is another "hot" manure. It is somewhat dry and very rich. Manure from sheep fed hay and grain will be more potent than manure from animals that live on pasture.

How to use manure

No matter what kind of manure you use, use it as a soil amendment, not a mulch. In other words, don't put raw manure directly on garden soils. Raw manure generally releases nitrogen compounds and ammonia which can burn plant roots, young plants and interfere with seed germination. In fact, it's recommended that all animal manure should be aged for at least 6 months. Many gardeners spread fresh manure in the fall and turn it in to the top 6 inches of soil a month before spring planting.

A better treatment is to hot-compost manure before applying it to the garden. Hot composting, where the pile reaches at least 150 degrees F) helps to reduce the probability of passing dangerous pathogens on to people who handle the manure or eat food grown with manure compost.

The bottom line

Anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of the plant nutrients fed to animals are excreted in their manure, so it should be no surprise that the stuff is an excellent fertilizer.

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Dairy cow vs steer...

I suppose Dairy cows would have more hormones and antibiotic chemicals vs a steer hmm. I wonder how many steers (bucks) there to impregnate dairy cows?

Weed seed/salts vs chemicals.

Looking into to chicken poop...more chems..

But how is animal manure vs green manure?


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Well considering ur source for ur manure. Many organic farmers/ranchers throughout the Nation who supply manure. I personally us our own. We grow our feed and store it. As to green manure many things must be considered as to soil type crop rotation and type of green manure. Example alfalfa is a good green manure but so is

Buckwheat looks nice, because it's not related to brassicas or legumes and it's good for 'poor soil', but that doesn't seem to add nitrogen either.

Rye Hungarian grazing

Phacelia - sow until mid Sept (doesn't add nitrogen)

Tares, winter - sow July - Sept (no because of bean rotation)

Field Beans - sow Sept - Nov (no because of bean rotation)

Mustard - sow - mid Sept (no because of brassica rotation)

So I'm left with Rye and Phacelia, I use a combination of green and manure. I hope this helps. ViVI

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Could you please provide the source for these numbers? (Unless you've done the research yourself, in which case I'm very impressed!) The policy on this forum is to give credit for extended quotes and other information, so that if someone else would like to read more, he/she can look it up.

Thank you.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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Sorry I don't have a source the notes was given to me by another Master Gardener.

The below source is related. Also, sorry if I stepped on toes. I understand about sources considering I Am a Master prepared nurse. Thank you have a great day!

Cornell Gardening Resources: Using Organic Matter in the Garden

Read more: How to Compare Manure Fertilizers for Gardens | Garden Guides
Last edited by vebyrd36 on Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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what about turkey?

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Honestly I don't us turkey cuz I only keep low numbers (10). Turkey manure has a higher moister content then chicken. I'm thinking it is 33% 0r 34% for turkey and 25% to 26% for chicken. Had to rewind my brain for the figures. Also Turkey unless raised totally organic are given many antibiotics during the growth process. I hope this helps. :)

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I gotta get some chickens and rabbits! Oh Honey..... :wink:

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Interesting info...thanks for posting!

Anyone know anything about chinchilla poop and how it measures up? Also, it comes out of the animal in pellets. Would that need to be composted for quite a few months first or could it just be buried in the soil near the plants? I vaguely remember someone saying pellet-type manures don't burn plants like wet manures do, but I could just be making up that memory.

There's also random deer droppings in my strawberry area. Would you eat the fruit in that area (after rinsing it, of course)?

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I would think it would be okay, I'd compost first tho. :)

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I would guess that teh NPK numbers will change seasonally and by region, feed type, etc. Also, if you're buying bagged, keep in mind that a lot of those products - especially cheaper ones - seem to have a lot of soil added, based on the lab analyses I've done myself on bagged products. That's why it would be good to know the source of this data - is it from a small or large set of samples, local, regional or national, bulk products or bagged? :?:

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I will use manure from any animal that doesn't eat meat. I age it first to keep from burning the plants.

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Alan in Vermont
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I just love blanket assessments of qualities of the various manures. While they look good on paper things may not pan out in practical application.

Item in issue, horse manure. Maybe as it drops from the horse it is too "hot" and will burn plants. So far I have used manure from two farms, both of which use wood shavings for bedding, and it is anything BUT too rich in N.

In the form we get it in it is low in N, enough so that it composts slowly and will cause N depletion if applied to cropland right from the farm. Maybe the poor growth and yellowing can be confused with "burning"?

In order to get rapid composting there has to be supplemental N added to the manure/bedding. There is an initial hot composting reaction in a pile of manure. That soon cools down and the bedding material remains very distinctly wood products for a long time.

N depletion on cropland shows up as stunted, yellow plants. At first impression it is easy to lean towards ph issues as the symptoms are similar and the horse waste can be blamed as being "acid". Bad guess. Crops that have been too heavily blessed with manure will respond to light, frequent topdressing with N, either organic or chemical. If on light soils it helps to try to get the N down immediately prior to rainfall or work it in with light cultivation. If the N bearing topdressing is allowed to sit on the surface of the soil it may convert to ammonia and be lost to the atmosphere.

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Thanks for the relative values between manures.

For relative C:N ratios I find this link useful. I don't pay attention to the absolute values but what is supposed to be richer in nitrogen compared to other materials.

Thanks too for signs of N depletion. Helpful while complicating things. I suppose there's a reason I'm not a farmer.

to sense

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I have been using composted poultry manure for years and it is great for my vegetables. I used get some from the turkey farms out in Moroni Utah. But they stopped selling it at the farm and only sell it to retailers now.

I have chickens but it takes a few years for it to turn nice and brown. In the mean time I buy the nutria mulch from the garden centers.

I have a farmer that will get me some composted cow manure so I think I will try that this fall.

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I've used horse manure for years as a compost ingredient. Mine works well because wood shavings provide its foundation, and as Alan indicated, if you supply the manure with additional nitrogen, which I do with all our kitchen waste, it cooks along beautifully. Although my source of horse manure uses wood shavings as the primary base, there is enough hay in the mix that direct use of the manure on the garden is not advised. I did this once, and to this very day, because hay often contains lots of grass and weed seeds, I'm still dealing with the ensuing weed problem.

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