pernox
Full Member
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:36 pm
Location: Berkshire County, MA

How to Use Horse Manure for Compost

So, I stumbled upon a co-worker who dates a girl who rides horses (seven of them, in fact, though not all at once 8) ) and generally just uses the manure for fill on a low spot of their 60 acre spread.

Long story short, I now have the 8' bed of my pickup filled with some nice, dried manure (been sitting out for a year at the ranch) and would LOVE to use this for my vegetables. I was planning to compost it as aggressively as possible with leaves, but only have enough leaves to equal the manure (not the 4:1 ratio or whatnot that's recommended.)

Question is - will this turn out okay? The compost is dried enough that I could probably just add it straight to the topsoil that I'm taking delivery on Friday, but I'd really like to use the manure to compost the leaves. Just want to make sure that I won't be making too aggressive of a mix, here.

Thanks in advance for any advice! :)

opabinia51
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Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

With a 4 to 1 ratio you will have what is known as a cold compost pile which takes a while longer to compost away.

With your 50:50 mixture what you will have is a hot compost pile. You will need to turn it everyday or at least every other day. It will get hot, you'll find that out the first day your turn it. Anyway, it will only take about a month to compost away.

Be sure to turn the pile regularly or it will go anaerobic on you and smell really, really bad.

Anyway, you'll be fine!

Have fun with your hot compost pile!

pernox
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Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:36 pm
Location: Berkshire County, MA

Thanks for the friendly advice, opa!

I'll be turning daily from here out, even though I went a little heavy on the size of the pile. Good thing I'm a fan of hard labor, 'cause I'll be doing a lot of it in order to stay on top of this thing. ;)

Interesting to note, yesterday's daytime temps here in western MA were in the 40's, and the manure was steaming vigorously as I unloaded it from the truck. There were some stones as well, which were quite useful for warming my hands on. These little micro-organisms are pretty amazing! :)

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

They are great, aren't they? Have fun with your compost pile.

FYI:

Corn husks combined with leaves will also give you a good hot compost pile.

pernox
Full Member
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:36 pm
Location: Berkshire County, MA

opabinia51 wrote:They are great, aren't they? Have fun with your compost pile.

FYI:

Corn husks combined with leaves will also give you a good hot compost pile.
I'll have to give the corn husks a run on the next pile. I've got to get this one done and ready in the shortest time possible so that I can amend the soil for this year's plantings, but the plan is to start a somewhat smaller pile for regular additions once the plants are in the ground and this batch of compost is used up.

As a side note, it's been exactly a week since this mound (actually three separate piles) was started - I have turned and moistened every other day since starting, and despite having not shredded the leaves (lawnmower wasn't ready for use yet ;)) I've already got some crumbly black goodness happening in the center of one of my "poo pyramids." (<- my lovely fiancee's terminology - she still thinks I'm a little odd for spending so much time and effort turning this stuff)

Pepper
Full Member
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2008 5:27 pm
Location: NW Florida

pernox,

Lucky you. All the benefits of the back end of a horse and no fences or stalls to mend. My wife has five quarter horses so here's my take on horse manure.

If your acquaintances horses are pasture or hay feed you have a significant amount of organic materials in the horse apples. Break one open and you should find undigested grass or hay. My manure piles heat up nicely with no additions and provide a fine, rich compost.

Our horses receive periodic medication (wormer's and such). If it's important to you you may want to check with the owner to assure none of that eventually gets to the garden.

Where there's horses there's hay. I use scrap hay from around the barn for top mulch and compost. On occasion hay sours and is unfit for horse consumption...........a composting bonanza.

Horse manure as I understand it is not extremely nitrogen rich. I try to collect manure where it is urine soaked, easy here because the horses are kept in stalls with sloping floors.

Hope some of this helps. Enjoy the exercise (I have a New Holland exercise machine) :D

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