9 Facts About Horse Manure

Shoveling horse dung
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If you've got horses, you've got manure. Being interested in manure may seem odd or distasteful to some 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 in the trailer or at a competition, or it can be a sign of illness. So, a healthy pile of manure is not offensive to a horse owner. Rather, it's a very important indication that everything is working well in the horse's digestive system. Here are some horse manure fact you might not be aware of.

  • 01 of 09

    Quantity and Weight

    Donut on manure in city street.
    Donut on manure.

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    Horses produce about eight piles of manure 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 molds, bacteria, and parasites to thrive.

    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 there is is too much water and it is runny, it can indicate a health problem. 

    If a horse produces no manure, it can indicate an impaction in the gut, and that too is bad news. 

  • 02 of 09

    Ingredients

    Various types of horse feeds and supplements

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    Horse manure contains grass and grain fibers, minerals, shed cells, fats, water, and 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 fertilizing your garden because these could still sprout.

  • 03 of 09

    Manure by Any Other Name

    Close-up of pony standing in a stable

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    There are lots of different names for horse manure. Horse manure is sometimes called horse buns, road apples, horse pucky, horse chips, horse hooey, and horse apples. 

  • 04 of 09

    Horse Manure in Your Garden

    Person moving manure with pitch fork

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    Horse manure should be aged about six months before using on gardens. Manure tea made with fresh horse manure can be used to feed vegetable and flower gardens, or fresh manure can be used to build a "lasagna 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.

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  • 05 of 09

    If You Fall Face First in a Pile

    Pile of manure

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    Horse manure is unlikely to spread any 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. While it's unpleasant to find it on walking trails and other public places, it's not very harmful. It is, however, good manners for your to stop and get the pile out of the way if your horse poops on a shared trail or parking lot. 

  • 06 of 09

    Color

    Decomposed horse manure

    K. Blocksdorf

    Horse manure changes color and consistency depending on their diet. When the horse eats a diet of 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 and the rain and sun break it down into the soil.

  • 07 of 09

    If It Stinks

    Bold man holding his nose

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    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.

  • 08 of 09

    Fuel

    Traditional fire roasting coffee

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    Apparently dried horse manure makes good fuel. You probably may not 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.

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  • 09 of 09

    Construction Material

    Door in adobe building
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    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, most of us would draw the line here.