If you’re a novice horse owner or new to horse keeping on your own property, you might feel a little overwhelmed by the thought of acquiring all the equipment you think you’ll need to manage your property. Fortunately, you can actually do a good job of land management without going overboard on expensive new equipment. In the next couple of blogs I’ll go over some basic, realistic equipment considerations for a small acreage horse places. I’ll start with manure management equipment and will go on to pasture equipment. I’ll finish with ideas on alternatives to buying new.
The right tools make all the difference in efficient farm management.
Manure Management Equipment
Start off with managing the back end of the horse first: A horse produces 50 pounds of manure daily, so it is important to have the right equipment to make the job doable for daily removable manure in stalls, paddocks, confinement areas, and other high-traffic areas. Manure that’s not removed creates more mud, odors, flies and potential runoff of nutrients, bacteria and sediments that can cause water quality issues. Plus, it can become a horse health issue by reinfesting the horse with parasites or other pathogens.
Basic manure management equipment includes a good wheelbarrow and manure fork. That may sound simple, but there is actually a bit of an art to the selection of an effective wheelbarrow and manure fork.
When choosing a wheelbarrow, look for:
- One that will be easy to dump (especially important if you have back problems). That usually means, depending on how tall you are, a long handle so you don’t have to bend over as far.
- Propper sizing; an extra-big wheelbarrow will clean several stalls and paddocks before it gets full, but it might become quite heavy and unwieldy in the process. Or you might prefer a smaller sized one that is easier to dump, especially if your compost bins are close by and easy to dump into.
- Ease of maneuverability, an important consideration if there’s a lip or board in front of the stall or if there are any tight spots.
- If you need to lift versus dump into your compost pile, you might want to consider something lightweight and not too big, such as a manure bucket with a cart.
There are several different designs around for these.
Manure forks tips:
- Find a heavy-duty manure fork that has plastic tines with a bent edge meant specifically for cleaning horse stalls. It is next to impossible to clean a stall with a straight-tined metal pitchfork or tool designed for other purposes.
- There are many designs on manure forks, with or without baskets (baskets help for "sifting" through bedding to remove manure and leave bedding behind) and even some handles that are ergonomically correct.
- Chose a wooden handle. It is a lot easier, and less cold, to grip than a metal one.
- Don’t forget a manure fork in your horse trailer as well. When trailering your horse, it is your responsibility to pick up around your trailer and take manure home for your compost pile. You might want to find a smaller version that will fit or hang in a tack area.