Manure...what to do?
Not sure if this is the right place for this question but here it goes anyways...lol
I live in Alberta, Canada where we have tons of snow. We live on a smaller acreage (3 acres) with 2 horses. We are trying to figure out what to do about the manure. There is alot of it in the pasture where my horses are. Should we be picking it up now in the snow? What about spring time......should we pick it all up (there is tons and it is only Jan. so that would be an extremely time consuming job) or should we spread it out over the pasture? Our pasture is divided into 3 smaller pastures and they are spending their winter in one section where the shelter is. We read that if we spread it over the pasture that they cannot graze on it for 6 months. Well here in alberta if we spread it in the spring then the pasture would be good by fall. What do you suggest?
We have 5 acres with 3 horses and we pick the fields 2x per day and dump everything in a manure pile.
Our fields are small enough that they have to be rotated more often than every 6 months, so spreading the manure isn't a feasible option. If you had vast, large fields where you can spread manure on certain sections at a time - go for it. But for smaller horse properties I think composting is the better way to go.
We give our composted manure to our neighbors in the spring/summer/fall for their gardens. Anything that is left is given to whoever responds to a newspaper ad.
We always pick around the barn/hay/water, and pick/spread (depending on weather and issues with my back :) ) around the field. All with just manure fork. We did it when it was deep snow here as well.
Welcome to the forum fellow Albertan! where abouts are you? a couple of us are in and just outside of Calgary :D
There is a barn I used to take lessons to who found a chicken farm who would come pick it up for free. Another place I know has a large green bin out the back and they get it towed every other month.
You should look locally at farms nearby who might have use for it, or farm stores who would normally be selling horse manure in bags. Just take a drive around and peak around to see if a neighbor might also have use for it.
I try to go around our field once a day with a wheel barrow and pick all I can easily get. I usually fill the wheel barrow every day and dump in on the manure pile. In the spring a local farm comes and hauls it away for free. I put alot around my flower beds, it is great fertilizer. I have also spread it on sections of lawn that don't grow well. It doesn't smell and breaks down nicely in the flower beds.
I would pick it up and spread it on the other pastures. I just spread ours. It helps keep the grass growing. As long as your horses are kept dewormed, there is no reason to keep them off of the pastures you spread manure on.
The freeze kills most all of the parasite larvea and eggs that are dropped in the pasture now anyway ;-).
Unfortunately, luvs2ride's comment that the freeze kills most of the parasite larva and eggs is incorrect. There is no such thing as a killing frost when it comes to ascarid and strongyle eggs/larva.
Strongyle eggs will not grow into infective larva when temperatures are below 45 degrees, but they do remain viable on the pastures and will turn into infective larva when temperatures get above 45 degrees. Strongyle larva that are already in the infective 3rd stage will remain in that stage while the weather is cold and can infect your horses. So if you are spreading manure on pastures in the winter months, you are only going to increase the risk of infections come spring when horses begin grazing again and temperatures are conducive to the strongyle larva maturing into the infective 3rd stage.
Ascarid eggs are not affected by cold or heat and can remain viable on pastures for up to 10 years or more.
By spreading manure on pastures, you confound the horse's natural instinct to not eat near feces. This avoidance behavior helps keep horses from picking parasites from feces....but when those feces and eggs/larva are spread all over the horse can't avoid them. Spreading manure should only be done at temps below 85 degrees when horses are not going to be on the pasture for 6 months or more. Spreading manure when the temps are above 85 degrees can be done and horses removed from pastures for 3-4 weeks because strongyle larva survive for a much shorter time when temps are that warm.
In pastures where foals are kept, spreading manure simply shoudn't be done because of the extremely long survival period of ascarid eggs.
With the quickly growing parasite resistance problem, we need to focus on preventing parasite infections by pasture management rather than by "just deworming". Ascarids are showing resistance to ivermectin and pyrantel. Strongyles are showing widespread resistance to fenbendazole, moderate resistance to pyrantel and instances of resistance to ivermectin. With the similarities between ivermectin and moxidectin, it's only a matter of time before resistance to moxidectin begins occuring. And there are no new deworming drugs coming on the market, so we already have limited choices as to what drugs may be used in particular situations and the choice is only going to become more limited. If we continue to "just deworm" and not consider appropriate pasture management options then it won't be long before we don't have any effective deworming drugs.
Spreading the manure helps with grass growth. If you have pastures you can rotate your horses on, then spreading is a good pasture management technique. As long as your horses are kept dewormed, and they have pasture or areas without spread manure to eat on, then you're fine.
If you can compost your manure in a pile and then spread it, that is really best. Composting helps kill off parasites because of the high internal temperature that a good compost pile will reach. It doesn't compost well in the winter, but once it warms up, the composting process will continue and speed up. It also helps make it better fertilizer for your pasture, yard, garden, and to even bag up and sell if you end up with too much.
Pastures get picked up after the horse are rotated off and mowed. What might be left is drug and broken up so there is some that is left. What is picked up is put into the compost pile along with what comes out of the barn. Then I put up adds and sings for free compost you haul. Get rid if it about 2 times a year.
Ryle, this winter in Alberta the temps have gone below -30C, that will kill anything!!!!!
We have 3 1/2 acres with 3 horse's. In the winter they are in our riding ring so that gets picked everyday. In the summer they are in both the ring and pasture for a few hours a day. We split the pasture in 2 and rotate them. When we move them off one section we pick and then mow and harrow.
We have a 15 yard bin dropped off and when full they take it away and bring a fresh one. The cost works out to about $100 per month. Worth every penny, not having to deal with mountains of the stuff.
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