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Manure management poll

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  • Manure management poll

    Curious as to how everyone manages the manure in your pastures. Does the size/layout or proximity to the house influence your decision? I would love it if you would also post the size of your typical pasture as well as your management style of it (pick it up, leave it, drag it).

    We pick it up weekly. The horses are typically rotated through 4 pastures - all are < 1 acre each. All 4 have a rolling slope going downhill. I pick it up weekly (we use a lawn tractor with a dump cart as of this year) because the pastures aren't all that big for 2 horses, fecals have been fairly clean and would like to keep them that way, and hubby wants the pastures kept 'clean'.
    Pick it up
    Drag the pasture
    Nothing - let it decompose where it is

  • #2
    I have large pastures and paddocks and enough to do pasture rotation, so, no I don't do either.


    • #3
      My horses (2) are on about 5 acres, split up into 4 pastures. One is used as a sort of sacrifice paddock. We don't ever need to pick them out.
      Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
      White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

      Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.


      • #4
        We spread the stall bedding on the pastures. I have 4 good sized fields of 2 to 6 acres each, with a couple good sized paddocks we use as barnyards, since the fields all can open from there. I spead the bedding on each field in turn, until it has a layer over the whole thing. Could take a couple months or several months, to cover each field, then move to another field.

        I will drag the fields during the summer after mowing, to spread out pasture manure piles. I drag about every second mowing time in normal years with rain. Didn't do much dragging this year with drought here, to prevent tearing up any grass roots. Good roots kept my pastures going, we didn't have to feed any hay during that dry time, but I did rotate often! My fields are heavy in clay, so bedding is great for organic matter to make the soil hold more air, feed the worms and dirt living micro organisms, let the plant roots spread easily. This spreading is really a key in keeping my fields healthy and producing good grazing for our intensive use by the horses (and sometimes other livestock animals).

        Horses number between 5-7 most times, graze the fields in two groups. Groups and fields get rotated, so grass is their main food over warm months. I mow after horses are removed from a field. Never mow shorter than 5 inches, so manure really doesn't "show" unless you are walking the fields. I rotate fields often, horses are out nights, so we don't get anything overgrazed to dirt or obese horses with half-day turnout.


        • #5
          Dragging during most of the year here is actually not good parasite management practice, but with 3-4 horses on 8 acres of pasture, full time, it's just not an option to let it sit. It's too much to pick up as well.

          So, I drag.
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


          • #6
            I have pretty limited pasture, and our climate does not get cold or hot enough for me to want to drag, so I pick it up. For the nearby areas, I do wheelbarrow and fork, but further out I use the lawn tractor and wagon. In summer, maybe once a week. This time of year, less often as there are days where no one goes out due to rain (they have dry paddocks, so not locked in, just no grass turnout then). We compost, so eventually it all ends up back out there anyway (after cooking!).


            • #7
              Two pastures, each about 2.5 acres (only two horses) it's too much to go around picking up and besides I would just make the most enormous compost pile that I would turn around and spread on the pasture anyway. I rotate the pastures, after moving the horses over I drag the empty side and then let it rest. If the pastures were a lot bigger I might not bother dragging, but the horses really do concentrate their efforts in certain areas.

              Sacrifice paddock/run-in/stalls get picked up and composted.


              • #8
                Three paddocks of about 1 acre each that we used to pick, but now the chickens break up the manure looking for undigested grains and other "goodies", so I'd guess I have to say drag.
                Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                Incredible Invisible


                • #9
                  I have 2 horses and a tiny pony that live out with access to the barn. We have 5 acres inside fence, one 3 1/2 acre paddock and one 1 1/2 acre. Mostly we rotate and drag, we pick the smaller paddock a couple times a year, and have picked the larger one during a drought when dragging wasn't a good option.

                  Currently the horses are turned out at our neighbors while our paddocks get a complete rest, fertilizer and seed - first time they've had a total rest in 4 years, though we fertilize, lime and/or seed every year.

                  Neighbors (wonderful, wonderful neighbors!) also have 5+ acres, but it's one big area, not cross fenced, so we have to be more careful about timing the dragging since they're grazing right over the same area. This weekend I picked manure around the run in shed where they congregate and dragged the rest.

                  After years of running commercial barns I was determined that when I had my own place the pasture would be managed properly and DH comes from a farming background, so we're pretty particular.
                  The plural of anecdote is not data.


                  • #10
                    1 horse, 1 pony on about 3.5ac including a 50X150 sacrifice paddock that connects both pastures.

                    I do nothing more than drop the mower deck and "mulch" the piles when I mow pastures.
                    And that only gets done once or twice a season.

                    You would not call my pastures lush by any stretch, but this year they both looked pretty nice and hay consumption was waaaaaay down as long as there was grass.
                    Thanks to a warm Fall, I still have green in the pastures.

                    I get fecals done 2X a year and they always come back clean.
                    I use a feed-through wormer and paste with ivermectin/praziquantel in Spring & Fall
                    *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


                    • #11
                      I'm on the obsessive side ... I have 3 fields, 3 paddocks, and 5 horses/1 donkey. I use 2 fields for 3+donkey and a 2-some, so I'll always have a field that's resting. I pick at a minimum every other day in the fields, and every day in the paddocks. In the spring/summer/fall, I spread around the farm (not in fields); in the late fall/winter I have a manure pile that gets turned every other day that I then use in my garden in the spring.

                      I have them out on grass from about 6:45a-3:30, then move them to paddocks with hay until about 7:30-8p. I have very nice grass in every field all year (and 1 paddock) and in addition to very regular picking, I lime, fertilize and seed each year.


                      • #12
                        Well, I both pick and drag and there was no option in your poll for that! I have two large (1 acre?) paddocks that I rotate two horses between, and I pick the main one by the barn regularly, especially during the growing season. I use the tractor (pitchfork into the bucket, usually driven by a bribed-into-it-nephew or Mr. CC). I also drag the bigger front field (used less often). During out wet season (October to April) the horses aren't out much, and are confined to their gravel paddock and that is picked everyday. The winter pickings are put in the manure bins to compost, the seasonal pickings are dumped in a special pile nearer the respective fields and allowed to compost.
                        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                        • #13
                          I employ a flock of chickens who's job it is to pick through and break up clumps of manure so it dries out faster. They pick out any fly larvae they find too. My husband might think about the dragging the pasture once a year or so but mostly it is just left where it is and the chickens handle it.
                          "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."


                          • #14
                            I voted drag the pasture, which I do much more in the summer, but I haven't done that in months. I think that's beneficial only when it's above 70 F outside. (It's been that hot in the past few months, but I've been lazy.)
                            "If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em."


                            • #15
                              It's actually mid-80* temps at which heat starts to become a factor in killing off parasite eggs

                              Temps in the 45-upper 70's range is quite favorable for larval development with the ends of the range being somewhat less so. But 60's and low 70's? They love it LOL That's really why it's not a great idea to drag in those temps, because you just spread eggs around and don't really increase the odds of killing them off. Cold doesn't kill, so while you won't get larval development when it's 5* out, you aren't killing when you drag either (as if you could drag manure bricks LOL)
                              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                              • #16
                                My 2 (horse and pony) are on a half acre so I pick it up everyday. If they were on an acre or more I would leave it where it fell and drag once or twice a year.
                                My blog: Crackerdog Farm


                                • #17
                                  Pick it up, have 2 horses on 2 fields, approxmiately 2 acres each, one horse is a Draft and a poop machine. It keeps fields looking nicer and it was a "condition" by the landscaper husband, of bringing the horses home. Use the dump bed on the RTV once a week, only takes about an hour.
                                  "They spend 11 months stuggling to live, and 25 years trying to die" my farrier

                                  "They are dangerous on both ends and crafty in the middle"


                                  • #18
                                    I'm also in the 'both' camp. I pick my all-weather turnouts (3 of them) daily so that they are always pristine. My grass turnouts (4 of them) I usually just leave. We do turnout on a rotational basis and while they are out for 12 hours a day mine are only on the grass for a maximum of 5 hours to maintain the grass. The large turnouts never really get picked and I assume that between mowing and time off they are fine. I do have one quite small grass turnout, maybe 200 by 400, that I pick occasionally.


                                    • #19
                                      Three horses, total about five acres for pasture, paddocks and barn. Three small paddocks attached to barn, a sacrifice area and the pasture which is slightly over 3 acres.

                                      Paddocks that are attached to the barn and sacrifice paddock (which is very close to the house) is picked daily (most days twice). Pasture is picked about twice per month. Manure is composted and spread on the hay field.


                                      • #20
                                        I have 2 horses on 3 ac., and do a combination of picking up and dragging. The largetst pasture is the furtherest away from the barn, and also the least used, so that one gets dragged, as I'll take them off it for months at a time.

                                        The back pasture and sacrifice paddock are picked up daily, but I'll also selectively leave manue in some areas that look like they're getting a little too bare/rocky and drag those 1-2x weekly. I always pick up around the barn, gates, and the areas where I feed hay.

                                        We compost everything and spread the compost that's > 6 mo old on the 2 larger pastures.
                                        Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                                        Witherun Farm