Steer Manure from Home Depot

jeff_12422May 7, 2011

As of right now, I have most of my garden in containers. I have been potting with a mixture of peat moss, vermiculite and compost (worm castings), a la Square Foot Gardening. So far, everything has done well. In order to save some time and money, I picked up a bag of steer manure from Home Depot today to mix in with the worm castings and peat/vermiculite.

Now I'm wondering if it's going to burn my plants -- the bag does not say "composted" "aged" or "rotted" anywhere, just "Steer Manure." However, it does not look like what I've seen coming out of any cow, it looks like compost. It's not as fine and dark and soft as the worm castings, but it's not clumps of poop, either. Since it looks and feels more like dirt, is it safe to assume it's rotted enough to not burn the plants?

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rain1950(W. WA z8)

It's safe. I've used it for years. It's 'aged' manure mixed with compost. Strawberries love it!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 8:34PM
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I think it's safe also. I bought a pallet of it a few years ago and I feel what I got was more dirt and mud than manure. I'm in AZ, so I can't speak for other states as to whether it's as bad. I really don't feel you'll find fresh manure there though.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 2:48AM
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That steer manure comes from Confined Animal Feeding Operations, CAFOs, and could be loaded with antibiotics and many other troubling things. To prepare that manure for market the CAFO operators dry it and mash it and that is about all. It is "aged" in that the animlas wallow through it for some time before slaughter.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 6:39AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Unfortunately there are some terms which are not controlled as to what they refer to. Manure, compost, aged compost, and aged manure are some of those terms. If you spend any time on this forum you know that when you let manure age, it becomes compost. The degree of doneness depends on how long it has aged and the conditions. I would say that a manure based product would be best for the garden after considerable aging. If it is fresh then it is likely too hot to use directly in the garden. The condition you can use to determine whether it is done is the smell. Fresh manure smells like it just came from a cow. Finished compost smells fresh like a forest floor after a spring rain. You can hold finished compost up to your nose and not be offended. Anything that smells sour, acrid, manurey, dank, rank, or otherwise offensive is not ready for the garden. And I know people have been using manure immediately out of the animal for centuries - I just think it is much better to let it decompose first.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 9:23AM
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It is extremely unlikely that anyone here can say for certain what the source of the feedstock was. Suppliers of these types of materials are often regional and would not be the same country wide. Stating that all the products come from one source is false and adds nothing to a persons credibility.

I googled "Home Depot steer manure" and it came up with at least two different products. One was a blend and the other one was a de-odorized product. Both had a brief description of the product and very basic instructions on how to use it.

As for using it in containers...standing by for Al....


Here is a link that might be useful: Previous similar discusion.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 9:52AM
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Simple logic helps explain the source of all the manure being sold in the various garden centers. What would be the source that would produce that much manure? The small family farm will not and that small family farm would utilize all the manure produced on site and not have enough left over to sell. With a Confined Animal Feeding Operation that manure is a waste product that must be gotten rid of and what better way to get rid of it then to sell it to gardeners?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 6:50AM
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It is definitely not fresh and appears to be mixed with wood chips or other mulch. I assumed it would be okay since it doesn't smell like it was recently, uh, made. But then I wasn't sure if it was composted, why the bag would say composted or rotted or whatever.

And kimmsr, that is a very good point. I didn't even think about where it would be coming from in those terms. Now I'm worried about antibiotics, etc. leaching into the plants. I will probably use the rest of the bag on non-food beds and won't be doing that again!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 5:27PM
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rain1950(W. WA z8)

I didn't buy from HD this year, but in previous years it was suppled by a branch of Scott's and was labelled as 'Earthgrow'. Perhaps HD has found a cheaper source? The bag should have some ID as to producer which you can question.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 7:08PM
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I would 'steer' clear of that...:D

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 10:42AM
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I am not aware of any studies done to determine if plants will pick up antibiotics, but the larger concern is allof the antibiotics that are getting out there in small quantities that allow the various disease pathogens to develop immunities to them.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 12:14PM
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snidelywhiplash(z5a Nebraska)

While I agree that the manure almost certainly comes from a feedlot (steers being the main source of beef in the US at least), I won't speculate on the presence of antibiotics in the stuff - except to say that it seems likely that in the presence of sunlight, heat and water they would break down in time.

Apparently antibiotics in manure is on the radar of Big Ag, however...Googling yielded a study conducted by the Agricultural Research Service (article linked below) that examines the issue. One eye-opening line from the article:

[...] confined U.S. livestock and poultry generate about 63.8 million tons of manure every year.

That is a WHOOOOLE lotta poo.

Living in farm country, this is a problem that's always puzzled me, particularly WRT hog operations and their huge manure storage lagoons that leak or spill far too often. Why hasn't someone come up with a way to deal with that stuff? They had it figured out in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome...digest it, siphon off the methane for fuel, and use the leftovers for fertilizer.

Yes, I know some places do that already. But why not EVERYPLACE?

As for myself, if I want animal manure, I either visit my relatives that keep cattle, one of the local horse farms...or just clean out our rabbits' cages. : )

Here is a link that might be useful: Assessing Antibiotic Breakdown In Manure

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 9:46AM
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Why not every place? Because it's insanely expensive to make manure into fuel.

I used dried steer poo from a big box store in low amounts in NM for my flower beds. Amazing stuff. I could actually grow flowers after that--albeit carefully chosen flowers for the high desert. Watering demands were low. And I actually began seeing a few earthworms. I didn't know there were any in my part of nm!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 12:43PM
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