We collect the manure from 6 Percherons and 2 working steers. The manure is collected from 2 to 4 box stalls daily and every few weeks from the horse shed. The barnyard is scraped a few times a year and added to the manure pile as well. Horses are mostly out in the shed, but 2-4 spend nights in the barn in winter/bad weather. The steers are in a small lot with shed during the winter months, I collect all of the manure from the feeder and shed into 2 piles daily and haul a couple cart loads to the main manure pile when the weather allows. I don’t mind this work in the winter when I can use the activity.

I the summer most of these animals spend a lot of time on pasture or in the horse shed during the heat of the day. We move manure to the big pile with wheelbarrow or Ox cart from the Ox shed. Once in the big pile all handling is done by tractor with loader. We turn the pile a couple of times when we can, but we don’t make actual compost with it.

One thing that we have learned it that our ground is saturated with phosphorus so we are going to be exporting our manure to distant hay fields via tractor and large spreader. I would recommend knowing what the nutrient levels of your fields are so that you know where the manure is needed most, it can do more harm than good in certain circumstances.

One thing that I would love to do differently is to have a covered manure area were we can keep it dry and prevent leaching of the nutrients and hopefully have a better turning process. Maybe with better storage and turning we could sell some of it to local gardeners since we can’t use much of it.

Utilizing raw manure is ok, but organic standards are to spread it raw or improperly composted at least 120 days before harvesting from it. New FDA standards for manure spreading could be even longer, with the exception of vegetables like potatoes which grow in the ground and are low risk because they are always cooked before eating. Personally I wouldn’t want to spread raw manure until just before I am to til it under or before a good rain, this minimizes the N loss.

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