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Manure Handling Equipment
© 2006 Cherry Hill

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

Manure is a fact of life on a horse farm. Every year, there will be literally tons of the valuable stuff which you can use to fertilize your pastures. Such a task goes much easier if you have the right equipment.



First of all, you’ll need a tractor that is of a suitable size to operate the manure handling equipment. There are tradeoffs in relation to tractor size. Small tractors are more affordable and maneuverable but might make your annual manure spreading task take weeks.Large tractors can be pricey and are sometimes tough to operate in small spaces but you can use larger spreaders and harrows and get the job done in a matter of hours or days.

For a small horse farm of less than 10 horses and less than 50 acres, you’d probably want to consider a tractor in the 50-65 horsepower range. You’ll want to be sure the tractor has a PTO (Power Take Off) attachment if you are going to run a PTO spreader. The PTO is a revolving shaft on the back of the tractor that provides power from the tractor’s engine to the equipment.If you plan to use a harrow that requires a 3-point hitch, then you’ll want to be sure your tractor has one. A three-point hitch is the linkage on the back of the tractor that hydraulically raises and lowers attached equipment. Also, the tractor should have a bucket on the front for loading the manure into the spreader – otherwise you’ll have to do that job by hand!


Manure Spreader

Manure spreaders are wagons with mechanical apparatus designed to distribute manure as the tractor is driven through a pasture or field.Spreaders are either friction-drive or powered by the PTO of a tractor. Smaller, older spreaders are usually friction-driven; the bigger, newer spreaders are made for use with a PTO. Friction-drive spreaders are ground driven, the power for the mechanics of the spreader is generated by the tires rolling on the ground. Therefore, this type of spreader can be operated behind a pick-up or even a team of horses as it is a self-unloader. There are two levers, one to control the speed of the apron chain which moves the load toward the rear of the spreader and the other to control the beater bar at the back of the spreader which flings the manure into the air. Spreaders powered by a PTO are usually bigger, heavy-duty spreaders which must be operated by a medium to large size tractor. As the tractor moves forward, it powers the manure-unloading features of the spreader via the PTO. We use a PTO driven International Harvester 540 spreader that holds over 5-tons of manure.



Harrows are useful for smoothing an arena or track after discing and for breaking up and spreading manure on pastures. There are basically four types of harrows, or drags as they are sometimes called:the chain (or English), the spike tooth, the spring tooth, and the rotary. The English harrow and the spike tooth harrow are the most suitable drags for manure management. The spring tooth is more appropriate for field work and the rotary harrow is great for arena maintenance.

The English harrow is made of heavy bars that criss-cross each other in a diamond-shaped configuration and have protrusions called teeth on the bottom side. They are very heavy and expensive but do a wonderful job of leveling manure in a pasture as well as aerating the soil without ripping it up. Home-made drags, simulating the English style, have been made with chain link fence, but the lack of teeth and their light weight make them bounce on top of the soil so result in little smoothing and leveling. English harrows are difficult to load and when you move them by dragging behind the tractor, they work everything in the tractor's path.

The spike tooth harrow has prongs (teeth) attached to a series of bars which can be rotated by levers. In this way the teeth of the spike tooth harrow are adjustable for work or transport. The teeth can be set in a flat position to move the harrow, in a slightly elevated position to break manure clumps, and straight up to dig into the earth.

In dry sunny climates, harrowing is a good practice as it exposes the parasite eggs in the manure to the sun which kills them.In humid climates, however, it is felt that harrowing the manure in pastures just spreads the parasite eggs over a larger area while still allowing them to be viable, so in effect increases a horse's chances of reinfestation. In such a situation, the manure should either be collected or the pasture should not be used for horses for a year

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