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Paddock care + soiled bedding + questions

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  • Paddock care + soiled bedding + questions

    Help. I need help understanding how to spread manure over my paddocks/pastures. My 3 grass turnout areas for my two horses are roughly 140' by 300'. I am rotating the horses daytime turnout on these area every two weeks so that an area gets used for 2 weeks then has one month off. Is that a correct timetable?

    Next, I would like to spread the manure from the unbedded stalls over the paddocks. There is also leftover hay caught up in the manure, rarely any shavings because my horses are not kept in stalls. The total weekly volume is two/three large wheelbarrow loads of waste. Must I compost all this manure before spreading it? If not, can I spread it at the end of a week and would I put it on the paddock that going to have the horses off it for the longest period?? Or, if I start spreading this waste will I damage the turnout areas and just create a mess for the horses to eat through??

    I can compost the waste and use it around our place once it's good and cooked but if I could spread some of it without creating a cycle of problems I would like to do that.

    Any trouble shooting advice would be appreciated.

  • #2
    I would not spread bedding on paddocks that small. The horses will "fertilize" it enough just by being in it Drag it with a harrow a couple times a year and it will be fine.

    I only spread manure on my fields that are 2 acres or larger. I don't age it but I rotate so that I am not spreading on fields in use. Let the field sit for a few weeks without adding more before you put the horses back in.

    The paddocks your size I actually pick the manure OUT once a week when I have horses in there much -- too much poop ruins the grass and spreads worms. But 2 horses on daytime turnout should be an OK amount just with dragging.


    • #3
      If you're really needing to spread, then yes, you really should have it composted thoroughly to kill worm eggs. Heat kills them, cold does not.

      Presumably you are dragging the pastures that are coming out of use? or are you picking up the manure?

      Dragging should really only be done when it's above 85* for several days in a row, as that's the heat needed to kill. I realize that dragging at temps below that isn't always avoidable. But, don't add insult to injury by spreading un-heated manure out there as well
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


      • #4
        Originally posted by fordtraktor View Post
        I would not spread bedding on paddocks that small.
        This. It's not going to break down fast enough, and you're just going to end up with a mess.


        • Original Poster

          You all are the best, thank you so much! I will just keep composting it. Once the compost pile is cooked enough, is there a best time of year to add to the paddocks??

          And yes, I do drag the paddocks to break up the piles and we do have the heat factor going for us right now. I was trying to pick them with a pitchfork but getting piles out of grass was difficult, especially if I didn't pick them daily.

          Again, thank you for your insights.


          • #6
            You have roughly around 3 acres of turn out, 1 acre each, these would be referred to as paddocks. So, you are putting 2 horses on 1 acre, ½ acres per horse, for a couple of weeks at a time. This is going to put a lot of pressure on the what ever grass is there and from what I gather from your post they are out pretty much 24/7. If you really want to even try and keep even grazing through out the paddock forget dragging. Yes, this will be the easiest way to get rid of the visual piles but it will not get rid of the “contamination” even with 30 days rest. You may get away with going around and picking up the piles several times a week. That’s what we do with our small paddocks. In stead of buying a spreader your $$ would be better served with a paddock vac. Don’t even think of taking the time to spread stall muck even a little bit. It takes along time to break down and you are just spreading more contamination. The grass will grow better eventually but that because the horses will avoid grazing those areas. IMO never spread wood shavings anywhere. When wood decomposes it has to draw nitrogen away from the soil to complete the process. You’re trying to do the right thing but with 3 acres and 2 horses you are fighting a loosing battle. We throw hay year round to the horses in small paddocks. And hand clean them up. You are not generating a lot of stall muck and it will take around a year to break down to dirt. If you keep adding to the same pile you better have a loader to get to the bottom so make a couple of piles if you can. Fully decomposed it will make excellent compost for you garden or lawn. But it is pretty “rich” and should be “cut” with other dirt.
            Of course this is IMO but based on a number of years of experience in SE PA and N Maryland.


            • Original Poster

              Thank you gumtree very much for the time frame on the compost. I do have a FEL on the tractor and turn the pile throughout the month. I did not know about shavings drawing nitrogen from the soil, good info.

              Yes, the horses are out 24/7 on the completely "sacrifice paddock" which is another lot that is roughly 200' by 120' with access to their stalls- hay fed as needed. This is where they spend all their time unless they are on one of the grass paddocks during the day.

              In the past I have always fed hay year round. This year is the first time we have changed things up to provide a little good grazing space for the mares. Before this they had a larger space which gave them mental health space year round but no grass.