We do not personally own horses at Stoney Creek Farm, but one of our income streams is horse boarding. We rent a paddock and two stalls to a lovely family who does a “self-care” program for their two horses.
We keep the paddock where they eat and exercise clean by removing the manure each week, which creates a safe and sanitary environment for the horses, and prevents parasites and bacteria buildup in the field.
We dump the manure into our compost piles that we turn regularly, and then use this compost for other projects on the farm.
Until we started boarding horses, we didn’t really understand how handy it was to have all that poop. And, well, there’s plenty of it… your typical horse produces about 50 lbs of waste — per day!
If you have horses on your farm, below are 2 beneficial uses for all that manure.
But first… what’s in horse manure?
In fact, about 75% of the weight of horse manure is water. In addition to H2O, you’ll find grass, grain fibers, minerals, shed cells, fats, and even sand or grit, depending on what type of soil the horse’s hay or grass grows in.
There’s a good chance horse manure will contain undigested seeds from weed or grain. And undigested seed is seed that could sprout. This is why you should always compost manure before fertilizing your garden with it, rather than directly applying the manure to your garden soil. (Otherwise, you may have a weedy mess in store for you.)
Now that you know what’s in it… keep reading for 2 beneficial uses for horse manure.
1. Boost nutrients in your soil with horse manure compost.
Horse manure makes an excellent addition to your compost pile, rich with nutrients your soil loves. And unlike waste from carnivores (which is a big no-no in compost piles), which have a high chance of containing parasites, horse manure is relatively unlikely to spread diseases to people.
If you already have a compost pile going, it’s as simple as adding your horse manure directly to the compost, and continuing to turn and aerate it as you already do.
But if you don’t yet have a compost pile started, this article provides 9 steps for composting horse manure.
2. Fertilize your plants with horse manure tea.
Your plants like tea as much as you do!
Just like my own herb compost tea using comfrey, manure tea offers a pesticide-free option for fertilizing your garden.
In fact, a manure compost tea works wonders for just about any plant. The only exception: root crops, like carrots and beets. Root crops need more potassium, so the heavy nitrogen in the manure tea would stunt root growth.
3. Bonus use: make fuel with your horse manure.
Horse manure can be used as a fuel source for burning. A writer for Backwoods Home chronicles their journey creating “bricks” from horse manure to later burn as a heat source. The article is fascinating — go ahead and give it a read.