Composting fresh horse manure

Community Community No dig gardening Preparing the ground Composting fresh horse manure

This topic contains 6 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  compostpope 2 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #52721

    compostpope
    Participant

    Hi all,
    It’s been awhile since I’ve been on the site (who would have thought that having children would take up so much time??!!)

    I have access to free supply of pony poo – it gets collected from hard standing where the horses are kept when not working with chidren with special needs, so its not on straw or woodchip. There seems to be quite a bit of hay mixed in with it – they seem to be messy eaters and poor digesters. In this respect I would prefer cow manure, but we have to work with what we have available (and free – my partner seems to think spending money on children is more important than gardens, odd I know but as she earns more than me I have to agree with her).

    I aim to hot compost the pony poo – has anybody had experience doing this? I know how to do it but not sure how weed free the end result will be..

    Thanks for reading and wish all a great weekend

    CP

    #52723

    Derek
    Participant

    Hi CP,

    Over the last year our horses have lived out over the whole year as it has been so mild. Hence, most of the manure I get is from field pickings; pure manure. I do 2 things with it:

    Over the winter some goes into the compost bin with the other ingredients which includes the straw from the chicken coop weekly clean. This makes normal, fairly weed free compost.
    The rest, and vast majority is left in a heap (which gets to a cone about 6 feet high) to do its own thing. After some months I have been spreading this 6 inches deep to make new beds. I know many seeds germinate from this so either these get hoed as soon as they can be seen, or if feasible I cover the new beds with black plastic (not weed fabric) for a few months. This kills off the weed seedlings plus whenever it is uncovered there are a lot of fugal fruiting bodies visible so I believe it is helping fungus formation and final breakdown into compost.

    Hope that gives you a perspective.

    Good luck,
    Derek

    #52728

    compostpope
    Participant

    Thanks Derek.

    How hot does your compost heap (the first one in your reply) get?

    CP

    #52737

    Derek
    Participant

    In the summer the bins regularly get into the mid/high 70sC, at which point I am trying to cool them down a bit, but I think that is more to do with the amount of grass available to add than anything else. During the non grass cutting season it is a lot cooler, don’t measure that often but I think it was somewhere close to the 50C mark. Must make a mental note to measure better next year!

    Derek

    #52756

    compostpope
    Participant

    Thanks once again Derek, I feel more confidemt about composting pony poo.

    I wonder whether your heap cooling in the non-grass cutting season is more to do with lower ambient temperature and/or less frequent turning than the lack of grass – the poo should have enough Nitrogen to heat the heap… Do you insulate your bins and turn regularly in the winter?

    CP

    #52763

    Derek
    Participant

    CP, I have a row of 6 bins (thoughthe bottom one is currently used for leaf mould) each just over 5 feet square and 3 feet high, built out of close boarded 6*1 timber and on a slight slope. I have “trained” the family to put anything which can be composted into the top bin. It is used more as a holding bin than a composting bin. When it is full it is turned into the next bin at which point everything is mixed and wetted if necessary then covered with a plastic sheet and carpet.
    Thereafter they are turned down the bins as space need/conditions/time/energy permit. Sometimes 2 are combined as they have shrunk. In the summer they are turned more often as I have a lot more ingredients. I never fill a whole bin with just poo, though a friend of mine does as I deliver him some in a trailer and this seems to work fine.
    You may be right on the ambient temperature front, I don’t know.

    #52771

    compostpope
    Participant

    It sounds like a good setup Derek, have a good summer turning those heaps – good to know there is someone out there that shares my obsession!

    CP

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