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 8 piles a day and about 50 lbs a day. That means one horse creates about 9 tons of manure per year. That's a lot of shoveling! But that's okay, because shoveling manure is definitely a weight bearing exercise and that's especially important for middle-aged women like myself. Why buy a gym membership when your horse is a 'make work' exercise program? Flex your biceps and shovel proud!
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 called buns, road apples, horse pucky (and yes, I know for a fact that frozen horse buns work well as substitute hockey pucks—and hurt if someone hurls one at you), horse chips, horse hooey and horse apples.
How Your Garden Grows
Horse manure should have about six months to age before using on gardens. I've made manure tea with the fresh stuff to feed my vegetable and flower gardens. I also used fairly fresh manure 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. The shape is formed by the last portion of the large intestine, which is that squeezes into ball-like shapes 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. We're more likely to make ourselves sick than from of our horse's manure making us sick.
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. The weather however, 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. I don't think I'd want to burn it in my fireplace and roast marshmallows over it, but I guess if there were no other alternative, it'd be worth a try. 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.