9 Facts About Horse Manure

Several horses in their stable

Anna Rostova/ Getty Images

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 that should not be ignored. 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 facts you might not be aware of.

  • 01 of 09

    Quantity and Weight

    Donut on manure in city street.
    Donut on manure

    Fotosearch /Getty Images

    Horses produce about eight piles of manure a day and about 50 pounds 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 mold, 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 too much water and it is runny, this 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. Veterinary attention should be sought as soon as possible. 

  • 02 of 09


    Various types of horse feeds and supplements

    Spiritartist /Getty Images

    Horse manure contains grass and grain fibers, minerals, shed cells, fats, water, and sand or grit, depending on the type of soil in which the hay or grass was grown, and the paddock or pasture on which the horse is kept. 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 seeds could still germinate.

  • 03 of 09

    Manure by Any Other Name

    Close-up of pony standing in a stable

    Luann Griffin / EyeEm /Getty Images

    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

    Francesca Yorke/ Photolibrary /Getty Images

    Horse manure should be aged about six months before being used 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.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    If You Fall Face First in a Pile

    Pile of manure

    Paul Thompson /Photolibrary RM /Getty Images

    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, horse manure is not typically harmful. It is, however, good manners for you to stop and get the pile out of the way if your horse poops on a shared trail or parking lot. 

  • 06 of 09


    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 to 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

    Paul Thompson/Photolibrary RM/Getty Images

    Horse manure is not as smelly as cat or dog feces. Most people do not find it overly offensive.

  • 08 of 09


    Traditional fire roasting coffee

    microgen/E Plus /Getty Images

    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.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Construction Material

    Door in adobe building
    Image Credit:Danita Delimont /Gallo Images /Getty Images

    Horse manure has also been used in brick making. It can be 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.

Article Sources
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  1. Overview of Colic in Horses. Merck Veterinary Manual.

  2. Horse Stable Manure Management. Penn State University Extension.