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Removing old manure from around the farm

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  • Removing old manure from around the farm

    I board two horses at a really nice little private farm. I'm the main boarder there, other than some pasture boarded horses.
    The owners live on the property and do all the work themselves, and have about 6 of their own horses.
    My one real complaint is that there is a lot of manure piles all over the barnyard, because they keep two of their horses turned out there all the time.
    I've been there over 2 years now, and the manure piles just accumulate. There are also piles in the pastures that aren't being picked up, or dragged (they don't have a spreader - just dump the used shavings from stalls in piles in the woods).
    The flies population last summer was terrible - the owner asked me to use the feed-through fly control stuff, but I'm pretty sure the flies are coming from all the manure everywhere.
    How can I tactfully bring this up? They have limited funds and limited manpower, but I'm really concerned about the flies again come the spring.
    Is there an article somewhere that details how to do this on a budget?

  • #2
    Just changing over to a one location manure pile for dumping bedding or putting those bedding loads into a compost pile, SHOULD help a great deal.

    If you can't spread bedding thinly, break up poop piles in the paddocks, you WILL have terrible flies.

    Compost done correctly, doesn't smell, has few bugs because of the heat created in the pile. It does need to be "turned" so air gets into the pile for better breakdown of the material. So for manure, you almost need a front-end loader on your machine to turn it regularly, get a good result.

    Deltawave has posted on her composting successes, has a great system in place. Maybe a search on her previous posts would help you there.

    But unless someone DEALS with the manure as it comes out of the barn into a new system of disposal, actively breaks it up in fields and paddocks, the fly issue won't change. Even putting stable bedding into ONLY ONE pile, would be helpful. You could order some of the predator wasps to keep flies reduced. ANY manure pile will get hot, eat itself up with microbial action, though not nearly as well or quickly as a compost pile you areate on purpose. You can give away or spread the resulting compost on the land, help the soil.

    Check Craigslist for used chain harrows, great for breaking up paddock piles, if they have a vehicle to pull it with.


    • Original Poster

      Good idea to check CL, thanks! They do have a sort of jerry-rigged drag for the riding arena - would that be effective? Also, would putting lime down on the piles speed the drying process?
      There are really YEARS of piles all over the barnyard.


      • #4
        A cheap drag can be made from one section of a chain link
        dog kennel enclosure. It will need a chain added to hook it
        to the machine pulling it and a couple concrete blocks or
        similar to weight it down. THis would help break up piles.
        Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
        Elmwood, Wisconsin


        • #5
          Yes, the drag for the arena should be fine for the paddocks, although you might need to add weight -- rocks, bricks, blocks, tires, all work. Are you willing to put in some time on it to help?

          I agree that if the manure was all put in a single location and then the drag run over the rest, it will make a huge difference. I pasture board my horses and although the BO does drag periodically, he super busy so I will often take a few minutes (our pasture's not multi-acres) wandering around with the pitchfork knocking a few down. The ducks help and I also walk in zigzags when I go catch a horse and kick apart as many as I cross; it's all about breaking up the piles so they can break down quickly. But these are quick, simple steps that you can do yourself. I know it seems like a big task, but tackling a piece at a time still gets the job done.
          Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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          • #6
            Our BO who lives to be cheap has a chain link fence drag with a 4x4 fastened to the top at the end, easy to find free on CL if you ask around & easy to take apart later.
            “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker


            • #7
              what about posting "free manure" ads on craigslist? let people come shovel their own manure out of the paddocks and take it out. Or, take empty grain bags and fill them up with manure, put them out at the road and let people buy them or take them away for free. That's if you're trying to literally get rid of it rather than just break the piles down, of course.
              Teaching Horseback Riding Lessons: A Practical Training Manual for Instructors

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              • #8
                Are you talking about manure that has been picked up and piled in various areas? Or just manure, straight from the horse, left to do whatever?

                If the later, and it bothers you, spend some time picking it up. I'd say the barn owners have well proven that they're not real interested in doing the work, so if you want it gone, then do it yourself. Pile it in one central location, and either try giving it away on craigslist or see if the barn owners get interested in doing something with it when they see it there.

                If you're not interested in doing the work, then leave and find a new place for your horses. You know the drill here--manure is left. Don't like that and don't want to work to fix it? Then there's just one other option.

                I would not try to drag YEARS of manure unless the property is very large and there were only a few horses. You'll just end up with manure everywhere, instead of in piles. Dragging might be able to maintain, once it's clean, as long as there's really enough space to support that.


                • Original Poster

                  I pick up after my own horses in their runs and in their stalls and don't mind knocking piles over in the pasture. But these are manure piles left in the barnyard in a hundred different places by their two horses, which are the only ones turned out there. And in the two years I've been boarding there, none of these piles has been picked up or dragged. That means I'm parking and walking through old piles of manure that are just sitting.

                  I'm not in the "I hate this so much I want to leave" frame of mind. I was just looking for a tactful way to address this with them, since I know they have a lot of other things to do. However, I really feel they aren't AWARE of the connection, because they felt the feed through fly stuff would work last year. Boarding is a side business for them. Not everyone knows about keeping horses on limited acreage.


                  • #10
                    Before you spend a bunch of money on the cost of supplements for multiple horse you might want to check into using fly predators. Fly larvae need moist areas and I'm not thinking a single pile of poop that's 3+ months old (or a year old) and dried out is the root of your fly problem. It's the newer stuff that isn't managed on a regular basis.


                    • #11
                      Unfortunately, if you don't work on all the parts, old manure, new manure, stall cleaning piles, you will STILL have a fly problem. And facing such a big project, can be daunting! The dragging of fields, old and new manure of the loose horses gets broken into smaller bit, which makes it degrade faster in sun and weather. Yep it IS spread all over, but is not going to last long that way. So the newer production of manure can be dealt with easier by picking it for removal or some more dragging more often, pasture rotation to rest the field, kind of thing.

                      Just getting the bedding into ONE location will help make a productive manure pile that heats itself, or a compost pile you can actively turn for FASTER breakdown of the manure. The resulting compost from the compost pile or eventually from the manure pile, will be GREATLY REDUCED in volume, should have gotten HOT enough to cook the worm eggs in any manure. Manure is not compost if it has not been heated well by the microbes actions, and broken down a lot. So spreading that compost on the fields is NOT like spreading manure with worm eggs in it.

                      Or giving it away works fine too, is up to the person managing the manure pile. Very FEW garden folks would consider picking up piles to get their manure for the garden. Cow manure? Some would work for that, but not horse manure in the raw state, even dried out. Many are old, may only need a little. You have to make it easy for them or they just won't come to take it away. Me? I would be able to manage the compost results, have places to use it, have MACHINES. Barn Owners don't seem to have machines, so giving manure away from a big pile in ONE LOCATION, might be easier than spreading it later.

                      The predator wasps ARE helpful, though you may need to buy more than is suggested to deal with this years results if you get a pile going. They need a bit of cover for the egg clusters to prevent over heating or bird damage, which need to be close to the pile. A board over the cases works, old bucket or dish covering is also fine. Wasps don't seem to have a lot of fly range, wing strength, so having them near the manure pile is best in results. Setting out some fly traps could also help, though they can be stinky to attract the flies. Throw them away when full.

                      Attack the problem on multiple fronts, so the flys don't get missed to breed more in another area of the farm. You never get rid of all of them, but they ARE LESS to deal with as time goes along. Water drainage is also a BIG deal with flies, so try to remove puddles, reduce tank overflow, muddy areas that they can breed in too.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TBFAN View Post
                        I pick up after my own horses in their runs and in their stalls and don't mind knocking piles over in the pasture. But these are manure piles left in the barnyard in a hundred different places by their two horses, which are the only ones turned out there. And in the two years I've been boarding there, none of these piles has been picked up or dragged. That means I'm parking and walking through old piles of manure that are just sitting.

                        I'm not in the "I hate this so much I want to leave" frame of mind. I was just looking for a tactful way to address this with them, since I know they have a lot of other things to do. However, I really feel they aren't AWARE of the connection, because they felt the feed through fly stuff would work last year. Boarding is a side business for them. Not everyone knows about keeping horses on limited acreage.
                        It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that you've got to pick up the crap.

                        I'd reread what you wrote here. Do it a few times. These people are NOT interested in picking up the manure. They have proven that. They have WELL proven that over *years*!

                        If you want it gone, then do it yourself. Perhaps you can talk about a work for board thing, so you pay less. If there are other boarders, perhaps you can all pitch in and take care of it in an afternoon, and then take turns maintaining it.

                        But I would seriously not expect to change the barn owners minds, or "educate" them or whatever you're hoping to happen. And consider they might not take it too kindly if you try to tell them they need to pick up the place. They are not going to start picking up poop when they have been just fine letting it go for years. Not going to happen.


                        • #13
                          If I live to be 109 I will never understand this cavalier attitude toward manure management. I used to board at a barn where the horses spent a lot of time turned out in about fifteen 100'x100' pens that, come to find out, were never, ever picked up. This lackadaisicality shocked and appalled me, so I started picking up my horse's paddock a few times a week. I knew that cleaning one run out of 15 wouldn't help the flies, but at least I wouldn't have to look at him standing in his own shit all the time.

                          The barn owner, a septuagenarian Southern belle who in all other respects endeavored to maintain a patrician facade, actually mocked me for this. As though by demonstrating some faint effort at hygiene I was some kind of snooty fussypants. "Well la-di-da, the Crone of Cottonmouth County is too dainty for us!"

                          That old bat put me in my place, though. One fine day I sauntered over to catch my horse, only to find that my paddock, rather than the pasture, had been chosen to receive that week's load of fresh, ammonia-reeking, uncomposted stall waste. Nice.
                          Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life