Horse or Cow manure?

coconut_head(5b)May 14, 2012

I have a friend with a grass fed beef operation who has offered me all the composted manure I can take away. I don't need much anyways, but might be able to make use of a half a pickup truck load.

I also have a friend who has horses and has offered me composted horse manure. I am not sure what she feeds the horses.

So which would be better to get? Get both and use a little of each? it would be easier to just make one trip as I really don't need that much. I already have about a 3x3 pile of 90% finished homeade compost. I have about 450 SF of raised beds that I will be adding a topdressing of either compost or a compost and manure mixture, and then mulch. So how much would I really need? And which should I go with?

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I think the better question isn't what they are fed, but may be what if any bedding materials are included in the mix and if the management practices include urine (good) or lime (could be bad) in the mix.

The comparison of C:N is around 18:1 for cow, 25:1 horse--but I think that can change significantly with the addition of bedding and urine.

I have horses and do my own compost and I've been very pleased with the results. I don't know much about cow manure.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 5:18PM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

If the horses are pastured or they eat baled hay, they say that horses don't digest as efficiently as cows, so there can be more weed seeds in horse manure.

+1 on the previous post as well. Definitely ask them if they use lime to control odors, because it can throw the pH very high.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 5:30PM
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After reading this article Horse manure and cow Manure could be questionable.
I called several large stables and found that almost 99% wormed each horse every moth. Called most of the dairy farms in the area and they also wormed each animal every month. Also found in both Horse operations and cattle operations meds were rampant because of animal densities. Found in Chickens farms and people raising rabbits same . Manures concern Me. Not only that compost on the commercial market and manures will not pass government standards. most manures available to us come from these large scale operations. New Herbicide Threatens to Contaminate Compost.

DuPont Imprelis,The label clearly states that clippings from treated grass should not be used as mulch or put in a compost pile.

Compost is what we put in,is what we get out.

Bj Greens

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 6:38AM
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What do these people mean by "composted" manure? Is the manure piled up and allowed to sit around for a time or do these people actually add 3 parts vegetative waste to 1 part manure and turn that periodically, adding some moisture as necessary, in other words actually composting that manure?
Simply piling manure up and letting it sit and rot is not "composting".

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 7:07AM
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bjgreen, the beef cattle are pastured. They are not in a feed lot. In the winter the generally stay near a couple huge bails of hay he brings in and a 3 walled enclosure that they can huddle into for warmth if the temp gets real low. This is the only area he collects manure form the rest is out in the fields where his mobile chicken coop follows to scratch through it all.

Kimmsr, yes, it is put in piles and aged. I thought all things composted over time, perhaps aged manure is a better term though. He has no stalls to clean out and the animals have no bedding. He doesn't worm them or give them any atibiotics or hormones. He just lets the animals live and die according to nature, unless of course he culls one for meat.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 8:59AM
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I would take cow manure over horse manure any day if I had a choice. Unfortunately, I don't know anybody that collects their cow manure. But I do know folks at the Clemson horse farm and visit them quite regularly. They dump bedding and manure into a concrete pit and I drive my truck up beside it and they load it with a skid steer loader. Bedding is wood shavings and chips and hay. Sometimes I get dark green alfalfa mixed in as well.

After thet stuff sits a few days, they dig into it with that loader and the steam just rises thick from it. It's awesome! And while I wouldn't call it a pleasing aroma, I wouldn't call it terribly nauseating, either. Plenty of bedding mixed to tame the terribles.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 9:56AM
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"I called several large stables and found that almost 99% wormed each horse every moth."

I don't know how recently you checked into this, but in the last few years there have been significant changes in what is recommended by veterinarians in terms of worming programs for horses. We have 3 effective active ingredients for internal equine parasite, but the rate of resistance has become very alarming. There is a very concerted effort to change common equine management practices from a 6 times a year program (not monthly) to worming as needed based on fecal exams. I put my horses in this type of program a few years ago and now worm once a year.

Other than what is now considered outdated methodology in terms of internal parasites, I haven't ever changed what meds my horse are on (mostly NOT on) because of the density of their boarding situation. I've never heard of anyone giving horses antibiotics or steroids in the same manner used for cattle. I've owed and cared for horses for 40 years. In my expererince with sport and pleasure horses the meds used most often would be non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. (NAISDs) I have no idea how they effect compost, but the equine versions are not dissimilar to what humans use.

One of the problems I would think with manures of any type picked out of a field or open area is that it takes so little time for rainfall to leach all the nutrients from small patties into the soil leaving nothing but humus--which might not be bad, but might not be as good as what you are hoping for.

As far as "never giving anything to his cattle" and letting them "live and die according to nature," I would not want to drive my truck on to a property with that type of animal husbandry practice much less load it up and take something from it home!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 6:53PM
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While there is nothing that requires the term "compost" to mean some material that has been mixed with other materials and then properly piled up and handled in a certain way, there should be so we would know what is meant when it is used. People can simply pile some stuff up and let it sit around for a time and call that copmposted, so that term means about as much as "topsoil", nothing in reality.
Compost happens and if you pile up organic material and let it sit around long enough it will get digested, after a fashion. Whether that material is worthwhile depends on many things and often most nutrients in that stuff have been washed out into the ground water rather then being saved and stored.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 7:31AM
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Similar thread in regards to "aged", "composted".

There are some orgs that have composting rules and regulations. NOP is one of them so there are some things that require the compost to be handled a certain way.


Here is a link that might be useful: Chicken manure old enough?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 8:54AM
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Compost and fertilizer can be separated a great deal into two different categories for the purpose of clarity. Once the manure has been leached, it makes for a superior compost all by itself, it more resembles the original plant material ingested by the animal in it's broken down state. You've taken the salt lick out of the equation. Fresh manure still has some digesting to do once it's left the animal, it's just too rich initially with NPK, sodium, chlorine, heavy metals, etc. to be considered anything but a fertilizer, not a useful composting material until the excess nutrients have been sublimated, drawn off by added browns, or washed down with rainwater. The term "compost" in an academic sense is a condition that occurs when most all of the nutrients (fertilizers) within decaying matter, whether it be manure or mixes or whatever materials used, becomes transferred into the microflora from the original decaying matter, and a biological equilibrium has been reached. At this point, the material is "compost" and no longer "fertilizer" which for the purposes of clarity, can be looked at as nutrients in a soluble form. So when people talk about compost, it means different things to different people but the hard core defitition is a fleeting stasis, yet one that can be defined objectively becuase it meets certain conditions in the biochemistry. All the voodoo surrounding compost, on the other hand, which IS a magical material, demonstrates the powerful effects mushrooms have on people...


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 11:43AM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

Hong Kong Willie has some pretty goofy stuff posted there. I shouldn't be surprised, because who would think a guy named Hong Kong Willie is a knowledgable expert at anything? :-] I mean really, sulfur is a dangerous chemical? Toxins (unspecified) from composted cardboard build up in your soil? Veterinary drugs kill worms in the compost pile?

I am curious what 'government standards' many commercial composts won't pass? I thought there weren't any.

The only thing I agree with here is that, yes, certain herbicides used in pastures can end up in composted manure and damage your plants. It pays to ask the donor what was used on the pastures or hayfields.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 5:35PM
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