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Advice on small acreage farm and manure

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  • Advice on small acreage farm and manure

    I have a small farm on 3 acres with three horses and I just can't win with the manure. Of course I'm in a neighborhood were 95% of the people do not own horses or livestock so we have to be over caution on our manure practices. Because of this I'm trying to find inexpensive ways to deal with the stuff as well as odor control. Any ideas???

  • #2
    Well a dumpster and pick up service does wonders for manure. But it's an extra cost. And you have to have a spot where you can keep the dumpster that makes it practical to dump wheelbarrows in it and possible for the truck to pick it up from.

    But a compost bunker works well too. In a populated area, it's a good way to contain the manure to avoid any run off/contamination issues, control flies and some smell and keep your manure pile at a manageable size/level as it composts. Google it for directions on how to best set one up as there are a lot of different ways that work. But most importantly it needs solid bottom, walls and works best if it has a roof of some sort.
    Here's one with a roof:
    Here's one without a roof:
    You should locate it in a spot that has water access.

    I have 4.5 acres, I have my manure pile located right in the edge of the woods with tree cover for shade and at the bottom of a slight slope so rain runoff goes into it. The shade and run off keeps it composting and I turn it with my tractor every week or two most of the year as long as it's not frozen hard. In almost 7 years here that manure pile has remained around the same exact size, has no smell even when standing on it and no flies. It's a bit of work but worth it.
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!


    • #3
      Read this document:
      Click here before you buy.


      • #4
        Our neighborhood sounds similar, not very horsey and relatively dense.

        I use both compost bins and a trash can picked up weekly. Any wet hay/poop blend goes in the trash. Costs about $22/mo.

        Straight manure goes in one of three compost bins on a rotating basis. It takes about a month to fill a bin. Every three months or so we load it in the spreader or take it to a worm farm. Takes about an hour to empty all three bins by hand.

        This works well for two horses, even with the paddock & bins located between our house and the neighbor's - who is great and we want him to be very happy. No visible manure pile and no odor



        • #5
          Use straw & get serious about composting it, bring in an army of red worms if necessary.
          Alternate between two/three piles.
          Plant a raised vegetable/flower garden (potager), they don't take up as much space as you might think.
          Use the ripe compost to top off houseplants. If you don't have them yet, get 'em. The bigger the pot the more compost you use.

          It isn't the monster you think it is.
          "Dressage" is just a fancy word for flatwork


          • #6
            I've two horses and the most loveliest garden, in an area cursed with clay soil. I've brought in surplus produce to work, and they just can't believe what a productive garden I have.

            So, my advice? Tell all your gardening friends about it. Horse stuff is the best kind - better than the cow droppings they sell at Lowes. Gardeners come and shovel my manure into their pickups and haul it away for me. They compete so bad for it, they'll even haul away fresh stuff to compost at home, so that they at least have it.


            • #7
              Gardeners are a great resource. We have 5 horses and we switched to pelleted wood bedding to have our composted manure pile break down better for gardening purposes. The third year on the property we got listed on our county's "free manure" list and I also listed us on two local "Freecycles." I've never had to list again. I have a group of loyal gardeners who actually compete to get what's left of our winter pile in the spring. I have to reserve a pile for spreading, because I have one guy who shows up with a dump truck and takes it all. I think the folks with trucks take it and compost it at home -- better than we would -- because they don't seem to care how old it is. I save my bedding bags for folks who come by for just a little bit.

              Composting is easier than you think.
              "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
              <>< I.I.


              • #8
                Originally posted by pintosrock View Post
                So, my advice? Tell all your gardening friends about it. .
                Second this.

                A friend built a nice little area she can 'bake' the manure in. Three wooden walls, covered with a tarp. It has a twin, so new pooh was not continually added to the 'old' pile making the good stuff hard to get to.

                I know some people who pay to have it removed, and others who have managed to get people to pay to come in and take it and even more who just tell people to come and get as much as they want for free.

                Especially around planting time, you'd be amazed how fast it disappears if you put an ad on craigslist or a similar site for free 'local' fertilizer.
                Owned by a Paint/TB and an OTTB.
                RIP Scoutin' For Trouble ~ 2011 at 10
                RIP Tasha's Last Tango ~ 2010 at ~23
                RIP In Sha' Allah ~ 2009 too young at 5


                • #9
                  Murphy's Manure Law?

                  Interesting article DW
                  But according to it I am doing nearly everything wrong.
                  I never turn my pile, unless digging into the center for the "Good Stuff" every Spring counts.
                  I probably add a load of 70/30 shavings/manure every time I clean stalls.
                  Moisture gets added when it rains. Period.

                  And yet, every Spring I end up with a pile that has composted so hot that the middle is a layer of ash and the surrounding material is the richest compost you could ever want.
                  A Master Gardener friend calls it Black Gold.

                  I also toss stall cleanings over a fenceline right next to the barn durting the ltter part of Winter and plant my "Barn Garden" there.
                  This plot - unamended by any fertilizer & largely ignored after I plant seeds - has produced zillions of zucchini (I planted 15 hills, WTF was I thinking?), a nice crop of Sugar Baby Watermelons and last year pumpkins that sprawled some 15' into the adjoining pastures

                  OP: this is from 2 horses on 3ac.
                  My compost pile is a 3-sided Lincoln Log-like structure of leftover fenceposts w/o a roof. It is setup just outside one of the side sliders from my indoor arena. Never seems to get any larger or smaller unless someone hauls away part.
                  No smell, no flies & the occasional decorative volunteer sunflower - I feed BOSS.
                  *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                  Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                  Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                  Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                  • #10
                    Oh wow. 15 hills of zucchini? Seriously, what were you thinking?
                    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                    • #11
                      Here in the dry desert where I have one acre total and three horses, the wonderful people from Waste Management empty my dumpster once a week. Totally worth the cost.
                      Visit the County Island, home of Whiskey the ranch horse: http://countyisland.wordpress.com
                      Visit him on Facebook:


                      • #12
                        I have 3 horses on a small farm and all of my manure goes into the bunker, and then once it's sufficiently composted I put it into my raised vegetable garden beds and give it away to my friends with gardens. I save feed sacks, they come with their shovels, fill up sacks, and away it goes.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post
                          Oh wow. 15 hills of zucchini? Seriously, what were you thinking?
                          I was thinking the nice big leaves & blossoms would make a nice cover crop for the Hill o' Poo.
                          So, of course, every dang vine was loaded with zukes.
                          It got so people ran when they saw me coming...again...with another bushel basket of squash....
                          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post
                            I was thinking the nice big leaves & blossoms would make a nice cover crop for the Hill o' Poo.
                            So, of course, every dang vine was loaded with zukes.
                            It got so people ran when they saw me coming...again...with another bushel basket of squash....
                            FYI: A great place to unload over zealous garden produce is your local homeless shelter/food bank but I don't know if even they can use a zillion zukes.
                            "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


                            • #15
                              The only issue I have with using Waste Management/garbage services is that 99% of that highly compostable/renewable resource fertilizer material is ending up in a sterile landfill, where it never breaks down.

                              Unless your community has a composting part to its waste management, I'd recommend trying to put in a composting bin system and giving away the finished manure each spring.
                              Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                              • #16
                                My composted manure is spread on my pastures My rye seed is loving it right now


                                • #17
                                  Here's an example of a three-bin setup with a roof. (Does Java's Mom still post here? I'm sure that's where I got the link to her blog...)


                                  ... and Patrick


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post
                                    I was thinking the nice big leaves & blossoms would make a nice cover crop for the Hill o' Poo.
                                    So, of course, every dang vine was loaded with zukes.
                                    It got so people ran when they saw me coming...again...with another bushel basket of squash....
                                    Maybe try tomatoes next time Don't let the horses near the tomato plants, I think the plants are poisonous to horses.


                                    • #19
                                      I have 3 acres as well... I have a spot right behind the barn where we built a bunker of sorts that I dump into..then once that is full I use our tractor and move it to the back corner of the property at the edge of the wooded plot behind us. no smell, no bugs....people do come and get it if I advertise it...


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by PRS View Post
                                        FYI: A great place to unload over zealous garden produce is your local homeless shelter/food bank but I don't know if even they can use a zillion zukes.

                                        I volunteer at a pantry.
                                        Even there they started to say "Again?" when I toted in the zukes.

                                        tasia - I like my 'mater plants near the house where I can harvest from vine to mouth

                                        The Barn Garden gets stuff I can check on occasionally & tote home as needed.
                                        Of course I shoulda rethought the pumpkins...lugging those monsters from barn to house, not so fun
                                        *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                                        Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                                        Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                                        Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015