Manure Management on a Horse Farm

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    Manure Management

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Manure management on even the smallest horse farm requires constant attention.  Sanitation practices must be implemented for the sake of horse health, family health, relations with neighbors, and to fulfill legal obligations.

     A one thousand pound horse produces approximately fifty pounds of manure per day or about ten tons per year.  In addition, from six to ten gallons of urine is produced which when soaked up by bedding can constitute another fifty pounds daily.  Therefore, four horses in stalls can produce 160,000 pounds of manure and wet bedding per year.  That is a mountain of manure by anyone's standards.

NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF MANURE  

    The combination of dung and urine is a perfect medium for the proliferation of bacteria destructive to the hoof.  When certain fecal bacteria ferment, their secretions can chemically dissolve the intertubular "hoof cement".  Dung and urine can break down the integrity of hoof horn.  Moist manure mechanically softens, loosens, and encourages the breakdown of hoof horn structure.  In addition, the pungent vapors of manure and urine can be irritating to the eyes and lungs of both horse and humans.

Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac  Wherever there is manure, there are parasite larvae.  The life cycle of all horse parasites involves leaving the horse host via the manure and then reinfesting a new host.  Parasite larvae can do great internal damage to a horse as they migrate through the tissues.  When a horse eats from manure-contaminated ground, he ingests parasite eggs.  Along with deworming horses every two months to decrease the number and viability of the parasite eggs that are shed, the daily removal and proper management of manure is the best way to break the parasite life cycle.

     Stable flies breed in decaying organic matter.  Moist manure is perfect breeding medium for flies.  The life cycle of stable flies is 21 to 25 days from egg to adult.  A female often lays twenty batches of eggs during her thirty day life span.  Each batch contains between 40-80 eggs.  When the eggs hatch, the adult flies emerge ready to breed.  The number of flies produced by one pair of adults and their offspring in thirty days is a staggering figure in the millions.

     That's why fly prevention is essential to keeping the fly population under control.  Optimum fly control begins with removing the breeding grounds and controlling moisture, important aspects of manure management.

POSITIVE ASPECTS OF MANURE

Horsekeeping On A Small AcreageAbout one-fifth of the nutrients which a horse eats are passed out in the manure and urine.  If the manure is properly handled, about half of those excreted nutrients can be utilized by pasture or crop plants in one growing season with the balance being used in subsequent years.  Horse manure is considered one of the most valuable of farm manures, being quite high in nitrogen and "hot" or capable of fermentation.  A ton of horse manure will supply the equivalent of a one-hundred pound sack of 14-5-11 fertilizer as well as providing valuable organic matter and trace elements.  Fertilizer numbers designate the nitrogen-phosphorus-potash content, in that order.    Cherry Hill 

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