Composting Horse Manure

Horse Outreach Workgroup

A 1000-pound horse produces 40-50 pounds of manure every day. That translates into nearly one TON of manure a month! Add bedding to this and the amount of stable waste you have to deal with only increases. What many horse owners don’t realize is that horse manure is a very valuable and underutilized resource. Composting is the transformation of organic material (i.e., the plant material in your horse’s manure) into a nutrient rich soil-like material through decomposition. Compost can then be used to enrich your pastures and gardens by improving soil structure, texture, aeration, and water retention. Compost helps to lighten clay type soils and increase the water retention capacity of sandy soils. Compost may also help control erosion, increase soil fertility, and balance pH! And it all comes from what you might normally pay someone to haul away! Composting is not for everyone, however. It takes time, energy and space to compost correctly. Although the composting process will occur naturally over several months or years, with human help the entire process can be completed in as little as 4-6 weeks. Four essential ingredients are needed: oxygen, moisture, and a proper Carbon:Nitrogen ratio. When these components are present, the compost will heat up naturally to approximately 130-140º F. This heat will kill most internal parasites and many weed seeds present in the manure.