Horse Poo Question

Terry CrawfordJanuary 18, 2012

This spring one of my horsey friends is delivering me a trailer full of aged horse poo for the small price of a few rose bouquets (what a bargain!). Anyway, I've never fertilized with manure and have a few questions that I'm hoping can be answered, so here goes:

1) How much per plant? A shoveful?

2) Will it last all season? Do I still need to fertilize with Rose Tone?

3) How long will it take to breakdown and disappear? I suppose this depends on the amount of rain we receive in the spring.

Any other comments or anything else I should be aware of is welcome.



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iowa_jade(C 5b H 6)

I look at horse manure as being more a soil conditioner rather than a fertilizer. It is great stuff especially if the horses are kept in a stall with sawdust bedding and fed alfalfa flakes.
The last I used (it was free also- free is good) I got a small amount which I added to my compost pile. Granted my compost pile does not get hot enough to kill weed seeds, but that is why we were given hoes and stuff.

I try and add some every five years. Have fun!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 11:48AM
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I'm jealous, Terry! Congratulations! I'm in a hotter climate, but what I have done here is lay at least an inch layer (more if I have the "stuff") on the surface of the soil as a mulch. Keep it under the drip zone of the plants and between them, but prevent it from burying the crowns of the plants. So, just a little under the canopy of the plants and then heavier between them. It's usually best here if they're well watered before application, then watered well after as you want to make sure the water under that layer is sufficient, and you want water percolating through it to carry all the good stuff from it into the ground. There is a possibility of some nitrogen transfer (depending upon how old, aged and flushed it is) and you definitely want enough water to prevent that from harming anything.

How long should you expect it to last? As you mentioned, water plays a large part, but heat is as, if not more, important. The hotter it is, the faster the stuff digests and disappears. Here, when temps are in the nineties for weeks, an inch layer could totally disappear in 60-90 days. You'll probably be cooler, so it may take longer. YMMV.

Yes, I'd suggest you water normally, apply your Rose Tone, then mulch with the aged poo. The longer it's aged, the less nitrogen from the urine it contains, but it IS beneficial as it is all organic and will feed the soil organisms to help break down clay, feed worms and other soil critters who will aerate the soil for you and, eventually, become fertilizer itself. It won't be balanced, nor will it be very high in any nutrient compared to your fertilizer, so I'd put the poo on over your fertilizer, then water it all well to get everything wet.

Once you've done it all, sit back and watch. I think you'll be pleased with the results, but, as I said, YMMV due to climate differences. I'd think Strawberryhill would be one of the better ones to precisely answer your questions as she lives what you live. I'll be interested to read how close I've come to what she suggests. Congratulations! Kim

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 11:57AM
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Campanula UK Z8

please check whether the horse have been fed with silage, or grazed on grass treated with herbicides, specifically if the herbicides ( Foremost, Pharoah, Verdone - anything from Dow Agrosciences - to kill broadleaf plants) contain aminopyralid or chlopyralid. Google aminopyralid for explanation - although this might not be a problem in the US as it is in the UK.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 3:27PM
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It's usually more of an issue with municipal "green waste" programs that horse poo here, campanula. More often, people with horses here don't use those types of chemicals where the horses may eat them. The city is a different situation. They require all green waste be put in special barrels, even that generated by chemically treated weeds and turf and enough of the herbicides carry through their "composting" to outright kill garden vegetables. Kim

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 5:58PM
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Terry Crawford

Not to worry, Campanula. These folks don't use herbicides in their grazing pastures. Herbicides and horses don't mix; it can be a deadly cocktail.

Thanks to all for the advice; I'm sure it will aromatic work but the roses will love it. I'm going to dose the hostas, clematis, and the whole gang while I'm at it. Just waiting for Spring now...high of 19F tomorrow.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 10:07PM
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alameda/zone 8

I have a horse farm and love using the aged compost. I just put a load of my stall compost on a fairly new bed - I will top that will the leaves my yardman pulverizes then add another layer of purchased mushroom compost/sand/bark fines. I just keep layering all these together...then every fall topdress beds with the aged horse compost. It makes for great soil. I dont look at it so much as fertilizer as soil conditioner plus it makes great mulch. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 12:20AM
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Campanula UK Z8

oooh, so jealous. I have even asked for a load of horse for my birthday before now. The herbicide issue was such a massive dissapointment we started keeping chickens for the chicken poo (although 3 visits a day to the allotment knocked that on the head - that and the raging mite infestation).
There just isn't the land for many horse owners who have to rely on livery and winter feeding with baled hay....which is where the dubious provenance of silage comes in. I am trying to persuade the allotment members to go for a composting toilet but so far, am not having much luck. Strange because historically 'nightsoil' has always been a good fertiliser until the guano trade (and later the chemical industry) convinced us all otherwise. Nowt wrong with a good human composting system but really, you would think I was suggesting we all squat over a trench or summat. Still, early in the day for this sort of musing....

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 4:26AM
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Terry Crawford

'Manure for your birthday!' Makes total sense to me; we gardeners are an odd lot.

If you ever get a chance to look through one of Tasha Tudor's books, she talks about using manure-water in the trenches around her lupines and other perennials. They were a sight to behold in her Vermont countryside. Her roses were some of the most glorious I've ever seen.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 2:58PM
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One of the best birthday presents I have ever received was seven, one ton pick-up truck loads of aged stable litter, complete with three day laborers hired from the Community Services Center to help move and spread it. I didn't even have to ask! My sister and a friend set it all up and got it going. That is LOVE! LOL! Kim

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 3:15PM
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I agree w/ you roseeek! That is love.. I have asked for manure and bark for yrs and my family say---"THAT"S not a gift!" Oh, if they only knew..... They have startted getting me plants so maybe soon -I will get the bark and manure..

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 4:19PM
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Campanula UK Z8

turning greener!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 4:36PM
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That's the benefit of having relatives and friends with green thumbs! Both loved telling the story of how "easy" I was to please. "Just give him a load of horse s*$!" They loved receiving buckets of cut roses and all the assorted fruit and berries that garden contained, so I guess it was a bit of a selfish gift? :) Kim

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 7:45PM
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After reading Kim's report of it disappearing in a few months I am surprised that my horse manure compost doesn't seem to go anywhere. That may be because I put 2"-3" down every spring the last 4 years. I cover the whole bed, but this year I'll do less under the bush based on what I've read in this thread. My beds have settled by year's end, but the compost is still thick on top. My garden is sand. I fertilize (complete organic & milorganite) before I put down the compost and then put down a few inches of small pine bark mulch. The mulch does disappear due to the armadillos shoveling it around and into the soil. My beds look neat and beautiful for about a week usually - until the armadillos find me again.

The only smell I have ever noticed is urine in the occasional clump of hay. Otherwise, there is no smell. I believe that's because horses don't eat meat.

Have fun with your manure, Terry. Your roses will love it - and you!


Here is a link that might be useful: If only sweat were irrigation...

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 11:00PM
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alameda/zone 8

I raise miniature horses. For those of you with a little acreage, colts are cheap, very little trouble to feed, and you have your own manure source without the difficulties of a big horse to attend to. Plus.....they are great with kids and a loving addition to the family.

I have chickens also - have never used chicken manure on anything, but I have a friend who swears by it. I was thinking of piling it up and letting it decompose, as I know "hot" chicken manure will burn. Has anyone had much experience with chicken manure? How does it compare to horse manure?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 12:54PM
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Campanula UK Z8

ooh yes, chicken is strong but so, so effective. I use all the straw bedding in the compost heap so I just treat it as normal compostable green waste. It does take a season to rot down fully but is a terrific addition to the soil. If you have a moveable run, you can just let the chooks do their own thing and then plant things like potatoes or dahlias in the scratched up ground. Chicken manure is higher in some nutrients than horse but suspect that pig pips either to the post.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 3:31PM
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Chicken is MUCH hotter and stinkier than horse. I will mulch several inches with horse, keeping it just under the drip zone of the plants and between them. Chicken I only use sparingly and only between the plants, no where near the crowns. Both are applied with copious water and my results in my climate have been great. I do prefer horse because I can layer it on thickly, creating a deep mulch. Earthworms and other soil critters LOVE it and it converts adobe into potting soil in very short order when it gets HOT here and I give it plenty of water. Chicken would fry the plants if I did the same. I consider it a lighter amendment than horse. You can buy chicken but have to shovel and haul horse. I still prefer horse, hands down. Kim

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 3:35PM
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TNY78(7a-East TN)

This might be a silly question, but I have 9 rescue dogs, I wonder if, instead of scooping, if I could use that as fertilizer? They are fed all organic grain free food (spoiled rotten)...although they are all small and don't produce nearly the abundance that a horse would (thankfully!!!), would it be an ok fertizer?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 3:50PM
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Wish I had a good source for aged horse-poo..... I buy bags of Black Hen and just layer it on, right up to the rose, but of course it is composted and ready to use, also pricey.. but worth it to me.... I also use Milorganite, Black Kow, and Alfalfa pellets..wonder how emptying to cat's litter box would work ??.....sally

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 4:24PM
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Cat litter works as an animal repellant, but if you have the clay litter, you don't want that in your garden. The cat urine isn't a good fertilizer as it will burn easily. I have used it to help prevent the rabbits from coming up the hill out back as there is nothing for the stuff to kill other than weeds and we don't walk down there. From what it's done to the weeds, it should scorch the garden pretty quickly. I wouldn't use the dog manure, either, even if they're fed organic grain feed. They are still carnivores and can carry things you don't want added to your environment. You only want to use herbivore manures for fertilizer. (animals who are genetic plant eaters, horse, cow, poultry, etc.) It is MUCH safer and far less smelly. Kim

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 4:33PM
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TNY78(7a-East TN)

Thanks Kim, I was looking for an excuse not to poop scoop, so much for that...LOL

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 4:46PM
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You're welcome! I have packed cat pee and poop filled litter into gopher and mole holes on the hill, sometimes using a strong stream from the hose to wash it deeply into the burrows with very good effect. NO further activity in those areas for a very long time! They aren't anywhere I've planted anything so no desired plants have been harmed, but there have obviously been some underground critters who were sufficiently put out by my efforts and offerings to cease and desist! That is absolutely the ONLY thing this danged cat is good for. Pitiful. Kim

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 5:34PM
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Campanula UK Z8

interestingly, many local water companies are trying to revive the old idea of using human waste as fertiliser. I cannot see that dog 'flowers' woulkd be any worse but....and this is quite a large but, there is a lot of further 'treatment' going on at the sewage farms in order to render the 'product' pleasant to use (mainly dehydrating, de-odorising but I wouldn't be surprised if there are some quite heavy duty chemical additions. This process can also be done much more naturally using reed beds as filters. Moreover, composting toilets are arousing my interest....and having 2 otherwise useless dogs myself, as an extension to using human poo, the dogs certainly contribute in quantity. Am thinking that the subject of waste, whether carnivore, omnivore or herbivore, still has some mileage yet to be explored.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 4:29PM
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This has been discussed extensively here already, or maybe on the Antique rose forum ?? anyway, isn't 'night dew' used in Asia on crops? also, how does one know which litter is made of clay, they don't put the contents on the box, I'd sure like to know how to tell if it's clay or something else.... I do also use a litter that is pine shavings but it says so on the box..'Feline pine'... a lot lighter to haul around by the way...anyway, my kitties are such a joy I don't mind, absolutely useless but I don't mind that either.....sally

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 5:00PM
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I have a friend who uses composted chicken poo in his vegetable garden. He says you better jump back when you put your seeds in or they will sprout right up your pant's leg. I have my own home-grown horse poo, but I have been known to go get trailer loads of it. One can never have an over abundance of horse poo.

I use Special Kitty litter. It says on the bag it's ground clay. Do not use litter with odor control additives or baking soda. I put it in each planting hole because my "soil" is pure sugar sand with absolutely no nutrients. I used to just put it in the bottom of the hole, but now I also mix it in the composted manure I put in the hole.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 6:50PM
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Sally, calciferous clay is the norm, particularly for clumping types. "Night Soil" can be used, but I would personally steer clear of it until it's been completely processed. If you use Kellogg soil products, you've already been using it. They're called "bio solids". No thanks, no matter how processed, I don't care to put my hands in anyone's 'poo'. Just too many parasites and diseases too easily passed around from the stuff. Strawberryhill, you thought horse poo was gross? Imagine putting untreated "bio solids" in your garden!

I agree about chicken poo for veggies, but primarily for veggies. Same with cow. Give me horse for roses any day. Kim

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 8:49PM
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