If you are just building your horse property or thinking about relocating your manure storage, here are some factors that you may want to consider when figuring out how much space you will need for your manure or compost pile:

You'll want to calculate how much manure your horses will produce when building a compost bin or storage area.

Photo: Alayne Blickle


• How many horses do you have?
• What type of bedding and how much of it do you use?
• Will you be actively composting your manure? Composting can reduce a manure pile down to about 50% of its original size.
• How long will you be storing it—i.e., how much and how often do you expect to be spreading it on your pastures, giving it away, or having it hauled away?
• How healthy are your pastures? Healthy pastures with a good stand of grass (4 to 8 inches tall) will be able to use the nutrients in manure more effectively than overgrazed, weedy, or bare soils. 
• What type of equipment will you be using?  A large backhoe and dump truck will require more space than a small garden tractor with a manure spreader.

Here are some general space requirement guidelines that, after considering the factors above, should help you arrive at an estimate of how much space you will need:
• For six months of uncomposted manure with minimal bedding waste from one horse you’ll need an approximately 10’x10’x10’ space.
• For a backyard composting system with one to five horses, without the use of a tractor or heavy equipment, use two to three 8’x8’x4’ foot bins.
• If you are going to use a tractor to turn your compost piles, plan on two to three 8’x8’x4’ piles for one to five horses. 
• When using a tractor it helps to place the piles on a cement pad.  This makes it easier for the bucket to scrape the surface and keeps the tractor tires from tearing up the ground.
• A 30’x30’ foot area will house three piles.
• For larger composting systems (commercial boarding facilities with greater then five horses) where heavy equipment will be used you may want to consider two three-sided cement bins approximately 16’x16’x4’ or 35’x 35’x8’.

Alayne