According to statistics, a 1000-pound horse could produce around 40-50 pounds of raw waste per day in feces and urine combined, meaning nearly one ton of manure per month. In addition to feces and urine, about 8 lb–15 lb of spoiled bedding is disposed per day per horse. With so large amount of horse manure, horse farmers would risk mismanaging with horse manure piles without proper treatment, horse manure stockpiles would be unsightly, smelly and fly-infested mess, which would cause runoff pollution in nearby streams and ponds and heavily affect the daily life of surrounding people.
Fortunately, composting horse manure successfully can eliminate these messy problems, reducing the volume of manure waste, killing parasitic eggs and larvae and destroy weed seeds, and providing a modest additional income by turning manure wastes into marketable resource. “Composted horse manure is a great source of slow-release soil nutrients for a pasture or garden. And over the course of a year the manure one horse produces is worth $300 to $500 in compost value.” says Caitlin Price Youngquist, PhD, a soil scientist and an area Extension educator for the University of Wyoming, in Worland. Composting improves plant and soil health and moisture, making plants healthier and more disease-resistant.
Making Successful Composting from Horse Manure
Commercial composting always takes time, energy and space, and even related equipment to compost correctly. Microorganisms responsible for composting need food, water, air and the proper temperature:
- Moisture: The water content should be controlled within 50%-60%. For example, when squeezing a handful of composted material, it should feel like a damp sponge; it will wet your hand with no free water drops. If the moisture is too high, horse manure could be mixed with bulking materials, like straw, leaves or hay, while you can choose a solid liquid separator for manure dewatering quickly as well.
- Oxygen & Temperature: The most appropriate temperature range is 54oC- 66o At 60oC or higher, most internal parasites, many weed seeds and fly larvae in horse manure materials could be killed. But if higher than 71oC, the microorganisms would also be killed. Hence, it is essential to regulate the oxygen and temperature levels by using composting machine to turn or invert the compost pile regularly, like about twice a week. Compost turner accelerates the composting process by physically turning the manure and providing a constant flow of air, improving composting quality and efficiency.
- C:N ratio: Carbon and nitrogen are the two fundamental elements in composting. For microbes, carbon(C) is the main source of energy while nitrogen(N) always can be used for forming proteins. In order to ensure successful horse manure composting, people should make sure the proportions of C and N in balance(here could be in the range between 25:1 and 30:1).
- Compost pile: For better fermentation, horse manure piles should not be built too small or short. Generally speaking, the height of pile is about 1.5m, the weight is about 2m, and the length could be chosen depending on composting environment at the scene, so as to use compost turner machine handily.
Common Problems in Horse Manure Composting
- Bad odor in the compost: if there is not enough air, the compost pile would have bad odor. To solve this problem, farmers just need to turn the pile to increase more ventilation.
- Bad odor with soggy compost: this is because the moisture of compost pile is too high and lacking enough air at the same time. At this point, farmers need to add dry ingredients (like straw) into manure pile for mixing, and increase aeration as well.
- The inside of pile is dry but it should be as damp as a wrung-out sponge, which needs to add water to pile when turning the pile.
- The temperature does not rise: that’s because there are too many carbon source raw materials (like wood chips, straws) in the pile but not enough nitrogen source (horse manure).