Managing Horse Manure by Composting
University of Florida Department of Animal Science

Lori Warren

The average horse generates over 9 tons of manure each year (or even more if bedding is included). Managing such large volumes of manure can often be a challenge for many horse owners, particularly for those who may not have enough land to dispose of raw manure by spreading on pastures. Although not a disposal method, composting offers horse owners one way to increase the value of horse manure. The heat generated by microorganisms living in the manure pile will destroy weed seeds and parasite larvae and eggs, making compost more attractive to gardeners and nurseries as a growing media or soil amendment. Composting also benefits the environment by stabilizing the nutrients in manure, making them less likely to be potential pollutants to surface or ground water. Compost can be applied to pastures as a slow-release fertilizer, reducing the risk of parasite re-infection, as well as the need for chemical fertilizers. Composting also reduces the odor and fly problems commonly associated with manure and decreases the volume of waste horse owners will have to dispose of by half.