Horse Manure or Cow Manure for Fertilizing Gardens?

motherjan(z5 N.E. OHIO)March 24, 2011

I have had different opinions as to which is the best. Any advice and instructions would be greatly appeciated.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

my advice is to get it this year.. and not use it until at least next year.. UNLESS you can get already aged 'nure ... presuming you are not talking about the bagged stuff ...

otherwise.. i doubt it matters much.. which animal it came out of.. i used sheep one time.. and it seems there are bunches of peeps who swear by chicken [OMG.. chickens.. peeps.. ] ...

how about you give us some idea of where you are going.. and then we could be a little more specific about how you should get there???

some people also use ground alfalfa [feed store] ... and skip the whole animal part of that equation ... and it doesnt smell ...


ps: btw.. anyone know how they get the animal to do the job in the bag????

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 10:12AM
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Because of the way a cow's digestive system works, cow manure tends to be less weedy than horse manure. Both will offer a range of nutrients so in that they are very similar. I'd make sure any manure was well-aged before applying as 'hot' or fresh manure has an ability to burn plant tissue and fine feeder roots. And if you are using the manure around any edible crops it should be fully composted before application or aged a minimum of 6 months.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 10:15AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

would it depend if it is a pastured horse.. rather than a barn horse ...

in other words.. you know what went in one horse.. because you had to feed it in the front end ...

rather than not knowing what the pasture horse ate???


    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 12:10PM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

I've had much better growth (yield) with cow manure in veggie garden. I used horse manure once with very poor results - very poor growth.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 4:20PM
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Last year, I had applied about 1 1/2 inches of mushroom compost/horse manure to my garden patch. It was pretty fresh stuff and I agree, it should have been left a year to further break down and leach out the salts, though I had gone lightly with it and incorporated it deeply ... well, the garden absolutely thrived, the best production I've ever had, a real wow garden! Bonus was that I think its sterilized stuff and no weed seeds had germinated within it. Whereas, when I've gotten cow manure from local farmers, it was amazing brown gold, though a very thick mass carpet of weeds had always sprouted. Cow manure from other sources and regions might not have such a weedy problem.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 1:27AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Having never used horse manure, I couldn't tell you which is better, I have also heard that horse manure is weedier than cow - but Ken brings up a good point.

I used to use bagged cow manure, but I try to stay away from it now because I've realized the amount of antibiotics and hormones they give cows, and I don't want that in my garden, especially my vegetable garden. Might be something to keep in mind if you are considering using bagged stuff.

I just found a source last summer for goat and llama/alpaca manure. The farmer has a huge pile of it composting, and I put it on my beds last fall to further compost. Can't say yet about the weeds... time will tell!


    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 12:24PM
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I've used composted horse manure with great results. You want to know if they've been fed hay that was harvested before it went to seed...

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 11:47PM
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I find that my neighbors' horse manure, which has aged for several years, produces lots more weeds than the cow manure I used to get from a local farmer, I assume per GG48's explanation of cow vs horse digestion. Nutritionally, I don't see any difference; the plants are happy with either.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 4:19PM
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flora2b(z6a bc)

Horse manure in my experience is more likely to burn than cow and yes cow is less weedy but as stated before they need to be well aged if directly from a barnyard. In regards to alfalfa, it is wonderful stuff, but the deer really like it too so if you have bambi's consider the others. I've also used canola meal which is cheap here but again the deer are attracted to it.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 4:29PM
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kimka(Zone 6B)

Now there's an idea buried in flora2b's comment. Bambi likes the ground alfalfa. So you spread it around the garden in a nice layer and the Bambis spend all their time eating it instead of your plants.

I can see a whole advertising campaig there.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 3:17PM
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New to this forum. Enjoying all the new stuff I'm learning. Feeding Bambis alfalfa will get verrry expensive.

I have both cows and horses and can't tell any difference in how hot it is or which one has more weeds, although my grandfather always swore horse manure was too hot. You can use green manure, but don't pile it up thick on anything or it will burn (it starts cooking). You can mix green in with your native soil, and it will be fine. I planted larkspur and delphenium directly into green manure and they were gorgeous and healthy.

I used to plant my annuals with a scoop of composted manure and got many, many weeds immediately around the plant. I blamed the manure and started planting them with a spoonful of Osmacote. I still have lots of weeds. I realize now it was the combination of turning over the weed seeds to sunlight when I planted along with the added nutrients. It doesn't matter whether it's manure or a commercial fetilizer. I'm going back to the manure as it's free. My conclusion: Weed seeds are everywhere and when you turn them over to the sunlight and give them a boost with manure or commercial fertilizers, they go nuts.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 6:52PM
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