If you've got horses, you've got manure. Being interested in manure may seem odd or distasteful to most people. However, horse owners know they need to take an interest in their horse's manure as the consistency and quantity is an indication of their horse’s health. Compaction colic can occur if a horse becomes constipated. Diarrhea can be a sign of a very nervous horse—it's not unusual to see when a horse is on the trailer or show, or it can be a sign of illness. A healthy pile of manure is not offensive to a horse owner. Rather, it means everything is working well in the horse's digestive system. Manure is very important to horse owners. Here are some horse manure fact you might not be aware of.
Quantity and Weight
Horses produce about eight piles a day and about 50 lbs a day. That means one horse creates about nine tons of manure per year. This is why stall and pasture cleaning is essential to horse health. If manure is not cleaned up regularly it makes the perfect environment for producing unhealthy ammonia fumes in stables, as well as a place for moulds, bacteria and parasites to thrive.
Horse manure contains grass and grain fibers, minerals, shed cells, fats, water, sand or grit depending on the type of soil the hay or grass was growing in. About 3/4 of the total weight of manure is water. It may also contain undigested grain and weed seeds, which is why it should be composted before putting on gardens.
Manure By Any Other Name
Horse manure is sometimes called buns, road apples, horse pucky, horse chips, horse hooey and horse apples.
Horse Manure in Your Garden
Horse manure should be aged about six months before using on gardens. Manure tea made with fresh manure can be used to feed vegetable and flower gardens or fresh manure can be used to build a 'lasagne garden'. It doesn't burn the plants, so even if you don't let it compost for six months, you're not going to kill your plants.
Horse manure should be a pile of roughly spherical shaped droppings. These are formed by the last portion of the large intestine squeezing the contents into ball-like shapes as it extracts water.
If You Fall Face First in a Pile
Horse manure is unlikely to spread disease to people, including bacterial problems with e-coli which is killed in sunlight. Human and dog waste are far more likely to spread disease and parasites to humans.
Horse manure changes color and consistency depending on their diet. When the horse is on grass, or very bright green rich hay, the manure will be a bright green color when fresh. If the horse is eating paler green hay, the manure will be paler and if the horse is forced it eat brownish hay, the manure will be a similar color. Outdoors, the weather bleaches it all brown eventually.
If It Stinks
Horse manure is not as smelly as cat or dog feces. Most people do not find it overly offensive. Particularly foul smelling manure could be caused by a rapid change in diet, too much fat or protein in the diet, ulcers, salmonella or C Diff, or internal parasites.
Apparently dried horse manure makes good fuel. You probably wouldn't want to roast marshmallows over it, but it has been used as heating fuel. Backwoods Home has instructions on how to make horse manure bricks to burn as fuel and claims it has a higher heating value than seasoned hardwood. Plus, the resultant ash is an excellent soil additive.
Horse manure has also been used in brick making. It's one of the components of adobe. What would a house made of manure bricks smell like in damp weather? While most people may not find the smell of horse manure offensive, but I think most of us would draw the line here.