All About Horse Manure
Horse manure is more interesting than you might think! If you keep or care for horses, then manure is an inevitability, but you might not give it a second thought. As the nature of manure can be indicative of your horse’s health and manure has a variety of uses, it might be a good idea to learn more about it!
How Much Manure?
Horses produce about eight piles of manure a day and that adds up to more than 20kgs in weight. This means that just one horse creates around eight tons of manure every year. There is potentially so much manure that it is vital to clear, handle and store it appropriately. Manure left in a stable produces’ unhealthy ammonia fumes, as well as providing a great place for moulds, bacteria and parasites to thrive.
What’s in Manure?
Horse manure contains grass and grain fibres, minerals, shed cells, fats, water and sand or grit. But water makes up 75% of its weight. It may also contain undigested grain and weed seeds that are still viable, which is why manure should be composted before it is put on gardens.
Horse Manure as Fertiliser
Manure is a fabulous fertiliser but must be aged for around six months before being spread on gardens. Ideal for both flowers and vegetables, the manure will not burn the plants and contains a variety of useful nutrients.
Manure and Human Health
Horse manure is unlikely to spread any diseases to people. Sunlight exposure kills e Coli. Human and dog waste are both far more likely to spread disease and parasites to humans.
How Horse Manure Decomposes
Horse manure changes colour and consistency depending on the horse’s diet. When the horse is on grass or very bright green rich hay, the manure will be a bright green colour when fresh. If the horse is eating paler hay, the manure will be paler and if the horse eats brownish hay, the manure will be a similar colour. Outdoors, the weather bleaches all manure brown eventually and the rain and sun break it down so it the soil can absorb it. However, this process takes time and so it is advisable to clear manure from pastures and fields with regular poo picking.
Horse manure is not particularly pungent and so not overly offensive. A rapid change in diet, too much fat or protein in the diet, ulcers, salmonella, C Diff, or internal parasites could all cause foul-smelling manure. If your horse’s manure stinks, get your vet to check your animal.
Manure as Fuel
Dried horse manure makes good heating fuel. You can learn how to make horse manure bricks to burn. These will burn efficiently, and the ash remains good fertiliser.
Manure as Building Material
Horse manure has also been used in brick making. It's one of the components of a material called adobe. However, houses built of adobe can smell unpleasant in damp or wet weather!
There’s more to manure than you might have thought. It can be an excellent resource and so it is worth taking the time to plan how you could put it to good use or help others to benefit from it.