Choosing a Manure Spreader for Your Farm

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Equipping Your Horse Farm
on a Small Acreage

Cherry Hill's
Horsekeeping Almanac

Equipping Your Horse Farm
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage

Equipping Your Horse Farm  IMPLEMENTS
Manure Spreader

Excerpt from Equipping Your Horse Farm   

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

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 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.

Smaller spreaders are friction-driven; larger spreaders are powered by the tractor’s PTO.

Friction-drive 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 don’t 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.

The 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 conversion kit.

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.

For 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 only).

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.

A separate brake system on the spreader is appropriate for heavy loads.

Spreader floors are made of ¾” T&G polyethylene, marine plywood, or steel. A slick surface is good so manure doesn’t freeze to it and it is easy to clean. Choose a floor material that doesn’t warp, bulge or bow which could hamper the smoother movement of the conveyor bar. Some spreader boxes are lined with recycled high density plastic.

A 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.

Spreader 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.

If 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.

For 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.

For 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.

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information  



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