Managing Horse Manure

Tools for disposing of horse manure and keeping area clean and sanitary.
Tools for disposing of horse manure and keeping area clean and sanitary.

Horses are generally big eaters. A healthy horse will consume 2.0 to 3.5 of its body weight per day. An average horse weighs around 1,000 pounds, so this means the horse eats from 20 to 35 pounds of feed per day. Much of the feed is indigestible fiber and it leaves the horse's body in the form of manure.

Compost is often considered preferable to commercial fertilizer for growing plants.

Much of this manure ends up in the stall or the barn area and poses health hazards if allowed to accumulate for any length of time. Mucking stalls and picking up manure is a task that should be attended to on a daily basis.

The main tools you will need for taking care of your horse waste are a pitch or manure fork, a good flat shovel, a wheelbarrow and either trash receptacles or a composting area.

If the horse spends a great deal of time in a pasture, care should be taken to remove the manure from the pasture or to spread it out where it can dry and become useful as fertilizer without attracting flies and parasites.

Horses also produce several gallons of urine a day, so at the same time you are picking up and disposing of manure, it is a good idea to take care of wet, soiled bedding and and replace it with clean material.

If you have a small horse operation with just one or two horses, you may dispose of waste material in trash receptacles so that can be hauled away or use it in a small composting heap. For a larger operation, you can also consider composting the manure and other waste material, or if that isn't possible, you may need to make special arrangements to dispose of the waste.

Whatever you do, be sure to take into consideration local rules and regulations regarding disposal of waste.  Be considerate of your neighbors and yourself by keeping all waste materials covered, properly disposed of,  and preventing odors that occur with accumulated manure and urine and also provide a breeding ground for bacteria, flies, and parasites.

Consider this

Compost is often considered preferable to commercial fertilizer and can be used on your landscaping, in your outdoor riding arena, and shared with neighbors or other gardeners for the benefit of all concerned.

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EquiMed Staff

EquiMed staff writers team up to provide articles that require periodic updates based on evolving methods of equine healthcare. Compendia articles, core healthcare topics and more are written and updated as a group effort. Our review process includes an important veterinarian review, helping to assure the content is consistent with the latest understanding from a medical professional.