A Useful Manure Management Option
Looking for a suitable manure management plan for your horse property? But not interested in composting? Finding a good home for all that stall waste is a useful option to consider.
Getting the word out is important to the success of this option. Start by placing a sign at your driveway or road advertising "free horse manure" and if you live in a well-traveled area this may be all the marketing you need.
Advantages: Giving away manure and stall waste is a useful idea for small horse places without pasture or enough land to utilize the manure being produced. This idea will work best if you are located in an urban area, where neighbors are avid gardeners or natural landscapers. Compost or stall waste with bedding can be worked into the soil or used as a mulch to control weeds and reduce watering requirements. If you are in a rural or agricultural area you may be able to cultivate an interest by local producers, crop farmers, nurseries, topsoil businesses or others.
Disadvantages: Be prepared to have people coming onto your premises. Initially it may also take some work to “market” your product and make connections with interested parties. Composting may be required to make it a more desirable product. Straight manure or stall waste with excessive amounts of bedding may not be as useful a product to gardeners (but topsoil companies may be interested in it). This may not be a feasible option for larger boarding facilities which generate large volumes of material.
What you’ll need/how to implement this option: You need a storage bin (often called a manure bunker) or designated area. Consider accessibly. The more conveniently located your manure storage or composting facility is, the more likely it will be that people will come and get it. Placing it along a drive-way or in an alley works well. Also consider accessibility when not home. Could you locate this area so that gardeners, neighbors, etc. could get to the area at their convenience? Equipment is another consideration. If you will be generating larger quantities of material you may want to give it away in larger amount. In that case a tractor with a front loader makes your product "more attractive" for the small gardener with a pickup. Composting the manure and stall waste will make the product much more desirable, eliminating concerns of weeds seeds or pathogens. Getting the word out is important to the success of this option. Start by placing a sign at your driveway or road advertising “free composted horse manure" or "free horse manure." If you live in a well-traveled area this may turn out to be all the marketing you need. Placing an ad in local papers or gardening publications (many times the "freebies" ads are no charge) or on Craigslist may also help. Talk with community gardens clubs, Pea Patch programs, park districts, local garden clubs, nurseries or other organizations. You might even want to attend a meeting where you can introduce yourself and your "product". Talk with your horsey neighbors if you live in an area with several big overwhelming piles. You may be able to work together and set up a neighborhood give-away program. Consider working with a reporter for a local newspaper for some free publicity and set something up for a specific time like a grange sale. Specify what people should bring (gloves, shovel, garbage cans)--maybe you can collect old feed sacks to use as bags.
All of us horse owners know manure happens and you need an effective plan to deal with it. This environmentally sensitive option will help you get manure and stall waste to those who can put it to good use versus letting it pile up on your property causing odors, flies and runoff.
Stay tuned for more useful manure management options!