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Composting with Manure

Why should horse manure be composted?

Every horse owner knows that a horse can produce a verifiably large amount of manure each day (on average a horse will produce 50 pounds daily). Just as managing sewage in urban areas is key to human health, managing manure is important to horse health.

Two common manure management practices include applying it directly to the landscape or having it hauled away. However, with a little time and energy, the manure can be turned into a wonderfully useful product that can enrich any garden or landscape.

The benefits of composting horse manure include:

  • Eliminating the breeding ground for flies
  • Killing harmful parasites (including worm eggs), bacteria, and weed seeds
  • Reducing the volume of raw material by half
  • Eliminating foul odors
  • Being relatively inexpensive and simple to do
  • Creating a final product that is an outstanding soil amendment and mulch that can be used in gardens, pastures, and the landscape
  • Reducing the possibility of contaminated runoff leaving the horse property. (Learn more about protecting your waterways and landscape here.)
  • Making your property more attractive to your neighbors by eliminating unpleasant odors and pesky flies

Composting has many more rewards beyond keeping your horses healthy, but don't take our word for it, just ask your NEIGHbors...

  • "We use it in the dirt for gardening and I don't have any wet manure laying around... I really don't have a fly issue." - Tomi, owner of 17 Lakeside horses
  • "The plants seem to like it. We compost because it's handy." - Eileen, owner of 3 Lakeside minis
  • "One of the greatest benefits is that it isn't derived from the meat industry. The compost from my horse is cruelty free and organic. We know what's in the compost that we use to grow flowers and food." - Elaine, owner of 1 Lakeside horse

Six suggestions for successful composting:

  1. Bins
    • One 5' x 5' x 5' bin per horse.
    • If manure fills up more than six bins, you may want to consider a windrow composting system.
  2. Covering
    • Make sure and cover your pile to help retain moisture, and to avoid runoff contamination during rain.
  3. Pile
    • A pile size of at least 4' x 4' x 4' is best to achieve composting temperatures.
    • Base width of the pile should be twice its height.
  4. Site
    • Place pile(s) at least 150 feet away from drainages, ponds, and wells.
    • Create and keep up buffer areas.
    • Pile on top of compacted soil, in large bins, or on a concrete or asphalt pad.
  5. Turning
    • To avoid disease problems and keep temperatures up, piles should be turned about once per week.
  6. Watering
    • Compost should be kept as damp as a wrung-out sponge.
    • No runoff should leave the area.


Learn more about composting with manure and how it can help protect your waterways, save money, and improve your soil and landscape in an upcoming manure management webinar!