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View Full Version : Can you safely immeditely spread stall waste from straw pelleted bedding or pine?



florida foxhunter
Dec. 13, 2009, 10:50 PM
I've always just used a manure spreader and spread my local ( bulk obtained) kiln dried dirty shavings in my nearby pine woods....but that option is no longer available. So I've switched to straw pelletted bedding (Streufex) hoping it wouldn't hurt to spread the waste from my stall cleaning directly on my pastures (spreading on the one I"m resting).,
I have just replanted bahia grass last year, and I really want to protect this grass. This is the reason I went to straw pellets rather than the pine ones...because they say it breaks down quicker. However, reading another COTH thread, it seems everyone is still using compost piles even with the pelleted bedding..
Does anyone know if it really makes a difference in breakdown, and benefit or harm for your pastures by using the straw vs. pine pelleted bedding? I was sure hoping I could find something that was actually good fertalizer for the pastures, and not harmful. Or do I really need to compost either one?
Anyone have any knowledge or thoughts?

Hampton Bay
Dec. 14, 2009, 03:24 AM
I think the point with the pelleted bedding is that you remove less bedding that you would with shavings. That's why it makes better fertilizer.

And composting it kills the worm eggs, which is why many people do that. Just spreading it on the pasture allows the worm eggs to hang around, and they can stay dormant for a long time until the weather conditions are right for hatching. It has to get over 97 degrees for a good part of the day to kill them out in the pasture.

Just my thoughts on spreading vs. composting. Composting can be a royal pain, but it does leave you with a nice soil that has many fewer worm eggs. And you can have nice compost in about a month in the FL summers.

What I do is pile my manure in the dips in the ground. Those dips become my compost piles, and the manure fills in the low spots once it's composted. It's nice because I ride out there, so there are less spots for them to trip over. Of course it also might take me about 10 years to get it all level :)

TrueColours
Dec. 14, 2009, 07:49 AM
Patti - I was looking to work with a huge industrial composting company here a few years ago and they had the timelines down to an art with regards to what organic product composted in what time frame, and what the ideal temperatures and moisture ranges were for each product, and if you combined lets say meat scraps with livestock bedding made from peat moss, how you needed to set the temperatures and moisture to optomize decomposition times

This is what they told me (and I am sure it is going to differ greatly from what others believe that USE shavings or sawdust as they will VISUALLY look at a manure pile, see that it is black and believe that it is now *safe* to spread or safe to put into their gardens, etc. Which is generally NOT the case, as no one will do the chemical analysis tests on various parts of their manure heap to ensure it has been rendered into an "inert" substance" ...)

- EcoStraw pellets / peat moss / pelleted Coir - 2 to 4 weeks
- Pelleted cardboard / shredded paper / shredded Coir - 2 to 3 months
- Corn Cob bedding / sawdust / wood pellets - 4 to 6 months
- raw straw / small and medium flake shavings - 1 to 2 years
- large flake shavings and wood chips - 2 to 3 years

In the past, I have mucked out directly from my stalls and flung the EcoStraw bedding (mixed with manure and urine of course) directly on my newly planted hay fields with no adverse affects at all. In fact all you could notice was that the hay grew lusher and taller in those areas and didnt yellow on the edges and wilt like they would if you flung wood based bedding out there instead in that same time frame

So - from my direct experience and what I learned from this composting company, as long as you use one of those very fast breakdown products - ie peat moss / Coir pellets or EcoStraw straw pellets, you will be fine spreading directly on the fields. Also bear in mind that wood based products have the issues of leaching nitrogen from the soil - the same cannot be said for any NON wood products, so that is where the big difference lies

Good luck! :)

deltawave
Dec. 14, 2009, 08:05 AM
Mostly I compost to shrink the pile and to kill parasite eggs. That requires HEAT, TIME, and the right level of MOISTURE. I just don't like to spread "fresh" waste on paddocks. The stuff I spread is usually at least six months old; I use a composting system and take the "done" stuff down to the end of the driveway where it's easy for Freecyclers to pick it up, then if I'm going to spread some on MY fields (which is rare, actually) I get it from the "done" pile.

Again, for me it's not a matter of it hurting the grass (I fertilize according to soil analysis and therefore serious fertilizing for me makes more sense with regular fertilizer) but a matter of killing the worm eggs and weed seeds. :yes:

Bluey
Dec. 14, 2009, 08:18 AM
Fresh manure won't hurt your grass, if you spread it fine enough, not too much in one spot.

You may still have worm egg or weed seeds there, that only a well done composting pile can take care of for you.

We are so dry, composting is extremely hard to do, without doing much watering and turning, so we generally don't do it, either spread right off, or let a pile sit there on it's own and give it time, almost a year, before using it.

florida foxhunter
Dec. 14, 2009, 08:45 AM
Well, it's not like the horses that are in the pastures the other twelve hours they're not in the stalls aren't pooping, etc in it already. And all we can do with that is drag them (don't have the staff to pick them........but then my pastures are a minimum of one acre, and most are two to six acres with grass)
SO, they're already leaving those worm eggs in them, perhaps just not as much!

True Colors, I'll await your email, but had two more questions that everyone may benefit from so I'll ask here. It makes sense to me, and I believe you, but for those doubting "thomas'", is there a site, etc. that talks about the pine shavings/pellets decomosing so much slower?
MANY of my friends use them, and if I could get the Eco Straw or Streufex inexpensive enough, PLUS this data, I bet I could sell a truck load easily!!
Second question, does EcoStraw have to be wet? Here in HUMID North Florida I have decided I like Sreufex MUCH better because it doesn't need to be wetted. I was using the other Canadian Straw product, but it was getting NASTY because it was too wet.......my helper put too much water in it to expand it to \start with, and when you added the urine and then the humidity (it's been 100% for nearly a week....fog and rain constantly this month......which is even more than usual, but miserable.) It was YUCK!

thatmoody
Dec. 14, 2009, 09:28 AM
Floridafoxhunter, if you can get the ecostraw or streufex cheap enough, I would be interested in buying some from you. I'm currently using pine pellets, but would prefer straw. I use straw bedding a lot anyway, and just prefer it. I hate the disposal, though.

I don't need large quantities, though - I am only bedding 2 stalls.

TrueColours
Dec. 14, 2009, 11:07 AM
This is the company that I met with:

http://jemev.ca/

They dont have published data per se, that I am aware of. This is what I always understood to be the case and Scott verified that information when we met. Their system is also totally and completely different from what any of us would have available for home or farm use. They use refurbished 40' ocean containers that have augers in them that are constantly turning the matter inside, with specific moisture being added to the mix, and a specific temperature being applied. This produces optimal decomposition rates and with this method being utilized, I am sure the shavings and raw straw decompose much much quicker than what we could accomplish ourselves

Each "load" is different, so the technicians adjust the temperature and moisture depending on what they are dealing with in that load and then at the back end, when the product should be "cooked" and fully decomposed, they run tests to make sure that is in fact the case. So - a totally different process than what we would have available to use on our own farms

So we then use a "generic" timetable, assuming that none of us will be out there each day turning and flipping the pile and spraying water on it to keep the moisture levels constant and heating it if it turns cool outside to speed up the decomposition and thats what Ive quoted above as far as the different products go ...

None of the straw pellets should be wet down at all. The straw is chopped and COMPRESSED into pellets. The sawdust
(wood products) is EXTRUDED into pellets. The extrusion process requires a much higher compaction rate and also dehydrates the material to render it into a pelleted form. Thus the extruded wood pellets required water to hydrate them before using them and straw pellets do not. The actual straw fines are also larger than a sawdust particle and wouldnt lend itself very well to an extrusion process

The EcoStraw particles also get sprayed with vegetable oil during processing to add more weight to each individual straw fine. This prevents the straw fines from staying light and airborne in the stalls once they break down

I have found with one mare and my stallion that we do need to occassionally "mist" their bedding. They are so anally neat in their stalls, I take very very little bedding out each day, so as a 1200 lb animal walks over that same particle time and time again, it breaks down and becomes lighter over time. For the horses that are messier in their stalls, there is enough bedding being changed and added on a constant basis, that is never a factor with their stalls at all ...

With wood pellets, since the original matter was a fine fine sawdust that went into each pellet in the first place, you will find that you need to constantly mist those stalls to keep the dust fines down to a bare minimum

Patti - I'll be back in touch once I get the trucking rates from the various companies that are quoting on it for me

MunchkinsMom
Dec. 14, 2009, 11:44 AM
I have been spreading mine on the pasture (9 acres worth) that the horses graze in. I discovered that the wet pelleted bedding actually made my bahia grass greener and thicker (not easy to do). I use a Newer Spreader, which does crumble up the manure as it goes. One other thing you can do is add grass seed to the manure before you spread (rye in winter, bahia or bermuda in summer) and it will grow very, very well. Or you can toss in some fertilizer to help break down the stall waste, or add pelletized lyme - depending on what your soil needs.

And as an FYI - my horses are wormed based on the results of fecal tests, and in the past year only one was shedding and all were wormed accordingly.

The advantage of living in florida is the weather. The manure and bedding spread on the fields breaks down incredibly fast due to the rain/sun cycles we have here.

Also, I have been doing this for 5 years, and my pastures look 200% better than when I moved here. Between spreading and mowing (I "mow as I go" while I spread - makes some interesting patterns in the pasture), I have fewer weeds and better grass. And the horses will not graze where it is freshly spread, they wait until it is broken down/dried up.

AnotherRound
Dec. 14, 2009, 11:49 AM
:)I think you have to remember that decomposting wood/chips robs the nitrogen out of the soil, so say turning fresh shavings into the garden would not do the garden much good. I would think it would generally do the same for the field, hence the reason for putting already deomposted material on the ground. In thin layers, I would think it might keep moisture on the ground longer, so theres' and explaination for TC's lush grash with undecomposted material, for one explaination...:)

TrueColours
Dec. 14, 2009, 11:56 AM
I think you have to remember that decomposting wood/chips robs the nitrogen out of the soil, so say turning fresh shavings into the garden would not do the garden much good. I would think it would generally do the same for the field, hence the reason for putting already deomposted material on the ground. In thin layers, I would think it might keep moisture on the ground longer, so theres' and explaination for TC's lush grash with undecomposted material, for one explaination...

ALMOST correct ... ;)

Any of the non wood based products (straw pellets, Coir and peat moss) dont have the nitrogen robbing issues to contend with. That is the exclusive domain of wood based products only, hence how imperative it is to wait until full decomposition has taken place before using any wood based bedding in your garden or fields

I think you'd be okay with paper or cardboard pellets as well since any nitrogen robbing issues are long gone in those products through the pulp processing they undergo ...

MunchkinsMom
Dec. 14, 2009, 01:21 PM
I found that one thing in spreading the wet (and I do mean wet) pelleted wood bedding is the urea, which is found in most pasture fertilizers anyway.

Since I top my pellets with shavings, the wet shavings go under the fenceline, to keep the weeds/grass from growing. However, I must also add that the grass that does grow right next to the shavings is just lovely, thick and green.

And I don't have any pile of decomposing anything to attract flies.

goodhors
Dec. 14, 2009, 04:24 PM
Have to disagree with wood products "Leaching or robbing" nitrogen from the soil. Nitrogen may be "tied up" longer breaking down wood, unavailable to other plants for a period of time, but Nitrogen never really goes anyplace or disappears.

My fertilizer man explained this to me, so we adjusted the fertilizer mix I spread, so that the lime addition was increased to release soil Nitrogen for use by other plants.

I also spread my daily bedding after cleaning stalls. It goes on the field that was last grazed and mowed, in the rotation of fields. Field then rests before horses get back on to graze. Manure will be dragged when I quit spreading on there, and usually there is a couple weeks of just no use, before horses get back on it.

We use sawdust bedding. I don't use pellets unless I can't get sawdust. I have found the grass plant, root systems are MUCH better with daily sawdust spread of bedding. I look at the spreading of fine sawdust, broken manure and some hay from stalls, as mulching the plants lightly in passing. The local earthworms come up to eat and take the organic matter down into the soil. My clay soil uses the organic matter to greatly improve my drainage, with water retention for dry times. Sandy type soils use even more organic matter to stay productive and healthy than the clays do.

Our horses are wormed on a regular basis, not carrying loads to contaminate the fields.

Composting is a great goal, but since I have no loader, so the management of turning manure into soil must take place in the fields. And while compost is a great product, it is not going to be as productive in fields needed for heavy grazing, as the darn artifical fertilizer and a mulch product for protecting the plant roots.

We have been doing the daily spreading about 8 years. The grasses have never been better, with the management program of mowing, rotating grazing, spreading, chemical fertilizing spring or fall. Soil is tested every couple years to make sure there are no changes happening that I am unaware of. Horses run hard, play around, with almost no hoofprints left in the turf. This is with shod horses. Depth of the mowed high, plant tops protects the growing part and the huge spreading roots.

I am able to graze 6-9 large horses from June thru October on about 10 acres, with no hay needed most years. This year with all the rain, I had to mow a lot, 6 could not keep up with the grazing. They graze at night, barned up days, all in good flesh with minimal grain, working animals. They would be blimps if not put away part of the day!!

Fertilizer man said lots of folks don't understand the way wood products and Nitrogen interact, so myths get going. Fertilizer applications of Nitrogen are often wasted, it evaporates if not rained on/into the dirt quickly after spreading. But the soil Nitrogen (another type) may need mineral help, to be usable by the grass and other plants grazing animals use. Lime is a key mineral here, does MANY things interacting with other minerals, plants.

Mowing tall and often, is probably your second best tool, after spreading, to keep the grass growing well. Never let the grass go to seed or it quits growing. Don't cut leaves too short, you damage the roots and shock the plant. Then plants die, you have no pasture to feed with.

I just have an older John Deere spreader that does a fairly nice job of evenly distributing a thin layer manure and bedding on my fields. Not many lumps or clots of hay to make the grass die back. Some rain, sawdust is all washed down on the dirt, grass growing above, as good mulch should be.

I have used straw bedding too, but it is very bulky to spread around. However it does break down pretty fast, like cut grass does, so you need more to "mulch" your grass, to equal the sawdust in value. Straw may not even be visible in a couple months during summer, so value is mostly gone as a mulch aid.

So for me, I consider the bedding spread, an aid to keeping my fields healthy. Bedding adds organic matter, which is as important as fertilizers. Worms and MANY other soil creatures NEED organic matter to do their jobs in making soil productive, good for plant growth. Horse manure is a plus too, but mostly a small bonus with the spreading. Bedding manure is never going to supply all the needed nutrients needed for best grass production. Organic matter needs CONSTANT replacement as it is used up. So constant spreading helps keep everything working better, in the soil picture. Daily spreading has very little smell, so neighbors seldom are offended. Nothing like the winter accumulation when the dairy or pig farmer cleans out the pens, cement barnyards after winter!!

Foxtrot's
Dec. 14, 2009, 10:56 PM
On my very small holding, I feel the longer I can keep composting the material the more it breaks down and the more palatable the grass is that grows on it. We've not taken anything organic off this property in thirty years and I have quite nice productive pasture for the months that we can put the horses out on it. It is limed and mowed and overseeded when needed.

Tamara in TN
Dec. 15, 2009, 10:37 AM
So for me, I consider the bedding spread, an aid to keeping my fields healthy. Bedding adds organic matter, which is as important as fertilizers. !

quite correct and well written...you decide if your fields need the organic coverage (think thatch but w/o the choking aspect;))
or the .0017 lbs per ton of nitrogen that composting gives you;

if your whole place is dirt lot turnout pens w/o grass the whole point is moot anyway as neither composted or straight spread will do anything for a dirt lot anyway...

to compost to be free of worms, would make sense maybe on a semi closed herd but not a come and go boarding barn....where new infections arrive and are left in the ground with every horse...it is pointless in that regard as every one is being reinfected each year from the soils...

totally closed herds on private farms with good graze seem to have the most to gain by trying to compost the manure,but they normally lack the man or machine power to properly compost it...so you have the big nasty piles of yuck,badly scattered and leaching into the ground with each rain....

so it all depends ....:)

best

MunchkinsMom
Dec. 15, 2009, 12:48 PM
Good point about the closed herd Tamara. That is one of the reasons that my vet said I was a good candidate for worming on demand based on fecal counts because I have only 3 horses.

Also good for spreading stall waste on the same point - only three horses. I barely cover a bit over two acres per year now with spreading the stall waste using the pelleted bedding and 24x7 turnout.

Fancy That
Dec. 15, 2009, 03:42 PM
<snip>

totally closed herds on private farms with good graze seem to have the most to gain by trying to compost the manure,but they normally lack the man or machine power to properly compost it...so you have the big nasty piles of yuck,badly scattered and leaching into the ground with each rain....

so it all depends ....:)

best

We have a small ranch with a few horses and live in dry CA. We've just been putting manure in a pile out in the field to compost. But we arent' composting it properly (as mentioned above) Not watering it and turning it "officially"

Is that super bad? We are letting it sit and it's shrunken down quite a bit (I think it naturally composts?) We were planning to use the oldest of it in the garden.

Just wondering how "bad" it is to be doing that....

Oh - we dont' really have "grass pastures" like people in other parts of the country. So where the manure pile is - there is no grass around it at all. We only get some seasonal grass in the winter when it rains.

Oh, and we don't have stalls or shavings or anything. Just pastures with some run-in shelters.

Tamara in TN
Dec. 15, 2009, 03:58 PM
Is that super bad? We are letting it sit and it's shrunken down quite a bit (I think it naturally composts?) We were planning to use the oldest of it in the garden.

Just wondering how "bad" it is to be doing that....
.


for your part of the world, adding a little water and a nice tarp would have it cooked down to nothing-ness in no time;) and would be great on a garden...no rain = no leaching and honestly an easier conversion to garden useful...

but for other folks with large manure un managed "land masses" in places where it rains pretty good, if you are not covering it and at least trying to keep it in a pyramid type pile you are doing the exact polluting that the "corporate" farms get roasted for again and again and again...

regards,