View Full Version : How to make a good compost heap for manure?

Mar. 12, 2012, 10:07 AM
This being done WITHOUT an FEL(front end loader)?

I'm not sure how one disposes of manure pile buildup in Texas where we're moving, and I know my pile here in MD grows lovely weeds, since we can't mound it properly without said FEL.

So, in TX, I want to see if I can start right and build a minimal expense compost area that I don't need an FEL for, so to make the pile more attractive to local gardeners for compost?

How would one do so 'on the cheap'?

Mar. 12, 2012, 11:55 AM
This one didn't look so nice, but it seemed to work..

We made ours out of pallets. I wired four pallets together to make a 'box' and left the front pallet wired only on one side (so I could open it). I ended up with nice compost out of it, and I really need to do that again (right now I have a manure pile which does break down eventually, but not nearly as quickly or nicely).

crazy gray horse
Mar. 12, 2012, 12:02 PM
I'm interested in suggestions as well. When we moved to MD a few months ago, we did so without the tractor. While I am currently able to spread (by hand :no:) the manure on the corn field next to us, I'll have to stop as soon as they plant the field. Somehow I'll have to compost the manure. Looking for an easier and inexpensive way to do this!!

Mar. 12, 2012, 12:36 PM
Without a FEL you'll want some sort of ramp or hillside so you can make it a decent height. Otherwise even a few horses will make a one muck bucket high pile that covers half an acre fairly quickly.

If you can't turn it over it will never be a great pile but at least it can take up a small area until you get it collected or rent equipment to spread it.

Mar. 12, 2012, 07:06 PM
Either build bays out of cinder blocks or pallets so the manue heap is tall/deep enough to get hot and compost on it's own without turning, or put the manure in black contractor bags so you can roll to turn, and it's ready to be picked pre-bagged up in a month or so if left in the sun.

Mar. 13, 2012, 07:37 AM
I have a very small loader on my tractor and a large pile, but I pay a neighbor with a HUGE tractor and loader to come in and turn my pile every 3 months. It only take him about 15 minutes and he charges me a minimal amount. My compost is nice and black and broken down and smells very "earthy". I don't get weed growth because the pile heats up enough to kill the weed seeds.

Mar. 13, 2012, 12:03 PM
Either build bays out of cinder blocks or pallets so the manue heap is tall/deep enough to get hot and compost on it's own without turning, or put the manure in black contractor bags so you can roll to turn, and it's ready to be picked pre-bagged up in a month or so if left in the sun.

I am going to have to try this myself - I'll use it in the garden, flower beds, trees, etc. I just need it to break down better. THanks!

Mar. 13, 2012, 11:10 PM
I've been wondering if this would work or if the holes would get clogged up immediately. You know how concrete blocks are divided into sections. If one were to set a base of concrete blocks around the edges and put pvc drain pipe that has holes drilled into it going crosswise through three or four of the blocks to keep the pipe in place and allow ventilation from either end and though the holes to the bottom of the pile, would that make a compost heap that gets hotter and cooks faster than one without ventilation?

Or would the holes in the drain pipe just fill with manure immediately?

I do like the contractor bag idea.

Mar. 13, 2012, 11:52 PM
I think you could do that (make big enough holes) if you're not planning on turning the heaps (inserting/removing the pipes each time = hassle, and redundant), but in my experience with a 3 bay composter where each bay is 3'x3'x4' the garden waste and household scraps I put in are pretty well composted in about a month with no turning and no aerating.

If you have tons of manure and need things to move along faster, and hey maybe your weather's different to mine, you may get different results. If you're *only* composting manure, you'll have less spaces in between chunks of poo too so less oxygen. I recommend adding straw or shredded paper or garden cuttings to make spaces.

Remember stuff will compost down on it'sown with no help at all - you only need to turn and aerate to speed things up. My dad built a circular 8' tall, 10' diameter cemented cinder block "pot" and threw garden waste and scraps in for years. Never turned it. He called it The Digester ;) He had a pipe running from the base that oozed goo which he diluted with water to make "compost tea" and the results in the garden were pretty spectacular.

Mar. 13, 2012, 11:59 PM
Using pvc pipe with a ton of holes drilled into it to get air down into the pile is fairly common.

Also, covering pile with black plastic to hold the heat & moisture in, to really get it cooking.

Make sure your pile has enough moisture in it. Those of us in drought ridden areas, may actually have to water the pile to maintain enough moisture.

_____ l _____ l ____

Can't draw on CoTH, so also think of horizontal pipe, with upright pipe joined together going up thru top of pile. Use T-joints. I will look around for picts later.

You will probably find "upright" air is better than going only horizontaly.

Mar. 16, 2012, 11:43 PM
I saw a plan with the pvc in the pile and you insert the blower into the pvc to aerate. I am not sure how well that would work though. It would have to be a pretty powerful blower.

Chestnut Run
Mar. 17, 2012, 05:17 PM
I was just thinking about this today as I was driving around on errands. LOL--the things us horsepeople think about, huh? There's a company that designs the type of systems someone mentioned with inserting PVC tubes with holes in them. If you're DIY inclined, I bet it would be pretty easy to make one yourself.

Anyway, here's a link explaining all about aerated static pile composting.

Here's some examples for under 10 horses from the same web site.

Here's some examples for over 10 horses. Some of the pictures on this page show how the pipes go in.

Edited to add--They show on the smaller ones, using a blower like they use to fill up children's "bouncy" houses. If you don't have a ton of horses, I would think maybe even an electric leaf blower with the end funnel part removed would be strong enough. IIRC, they even mentioned something about putting it on a timer like you can get at greenhouse supply stores, or even Lowes/Home Depot.