Excerpt from Equipping
Your Horse Farm
The tractor is the powerhouse and the implements are tools that help you do work.
An implement of great importance is a manure spreader.
Manure spreaders are wagons
with a mechanical apparatus designed to distribute manure as the tractor is driven
through a pasture or field. If you only spread compost once or twice a year on
your fields or pastures and clean the spreader up well between uses, a spread
can double as a farm wagon.
are friction-driven; larger spreaders are powered by the tractors PTO.
spreaders (also called ground-drive spreaders) are ground driven, that is, the
power for unloading and spreading is generated by the tires of the spreader rolling
on the ground. A ground-drive spreader is usually a simple setup with just two
levers: one to control the speed of the apron chain, which moves the load toward
the rear of the spreader; the other to activate the beater bars at the back of
the spreader. You can drive to your pasture without spreading manure along the
way, and then activate the apron chain and beater bar and start spreading. Since
these spreaders dont have a rotating driveline, they are potentially safer
than a PTO driven spreader. The drawback to this type of spreader is that the
tow vehicle must be moving for the spreading mechanism to be activated.
beater bars are what breaks the manure and fling it into the air. A friction spreader
can be operated behind a tractor, pickup or a team of horses because it is a self-unloader.
In order to use a spreader with a team of horses, you will have to purchase a
Spreaders powered by
a PTO are usually bigger, heavy-duty spreaders suitable for a large horse farm
or ranch. The PTO makes them more difficult to hook up but they have many advantages.
First of all, they have larger capacity. Another advantage is that because the
ground speed and the spreader speed can be controlled separately, the manure can
be spread heavier or lighter or even unloaded in one spot making a pile if desired.
any spreader, look for one with controls up front that you can operate from the
tractor seat. A hydraulic gear case selector is more desirable than a rope pull.
Some spreaders have as many as 5 apron chain speeds. There can be as many as 3
sets of beater bars (with ripper teeth) or paddles at the rear of the spreader.
Spreaders are available with rubber tires, floatation tires, or steel wheels (rims
An end gate is an option that
comes in handy if you will be hauling wet loads or if you want to heap the spreader
to capacity. End gates are either manual or hydraulic. A front box extension builds
up the front of the spreader to allow more heaping and to prevent manure from
dropping on the drive mechanism.
brake system on the spreader is appropriate for heavy loads.
floors are made of ¾ T&G polyethylene, marine plywood, or steel.
A slick surface is good so manure doesnt freeze to it and it is easy to
clean. Choose a floor material that doesnt warp, bulge or bow which could
hamper the smoother movement of the conveyor bar. Some spreader boxes are lined
with recycled high density plastic.
slip clutch can protect your chain and beaters. When a large frozen clump of manure
gets wedged in the beater, it could break shear bolts, the chain, or damage bars
or paddles. With a slip clutch feature, the spreader mechanism stops operating
when it gets clogged.
To comply with
regulations requiring thin application to reduce contamination from runoff, you
can purchase optional equipment to further reduce the conveyor speed. This is
especially good if you spread fresh manure or manure without bedding.
capacity is measured in cubic feet. You will see two figures in spreader capacity
stats one struck and one heaped. Struck refers to a level load and heaped
is the mounded capacity.
What size spreader
you choose will depend on whether you spread manure daily on crop land or non-horse
pasture. If you do, you might likely choose a smaller spreader that can be pulled
by a garden tractor, ATV or UV and that is narrow enough to fit in pens and barn
aisles, even backed into a stall.
you compost manure (the most environmentally responsible method) and spread months
later as humus, your annual or semi-annual spreading will go better with a larger
capacity spreader, especially if the distance from the pile to the field is far.
For 5 horses or more, figure on a 75 cubic foot manure spreader or larger.
example, we have 7 horses. We collect manure every day, compost and spread the
humus once a year. We have an International Harvester 540 PTO driven manure spreader
which has a 90 cubic foot capacity struck and 135 cubic feet capacity heaped.
It takes 7 tractor bucket loads to fill the spreader to heaped. We spread approximately
10-15 manure spreader loads of humus on our pastures per year.
operations with very large manure hauling needs, truck mounted spreaders are available
and would be warranted if you need to drive far on highways to spread.