New to horses, can you put a horse on septic field? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-11-2015, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
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New to horses, can you put a horse on septic field?

Hello, I am considering getting my first horse, I have been around horses a lot and absolutely love them.. So my question is this.. I live out in the county with my boyfriend and were considering fencing off about an acre and a half for a horse, we have a septic tank and I have read it is not good to have horse around that? The actual area where the tank is would not be near the pasture, but they do have a sprinkler system that drains it. It cuts on for a few mins a few times a day that would be in the fenced area and I was wondering if that would be an issue for the horse or the septic lines?? Is it safe for the horse to graze? Any advice would be helpful I am not knowledgeable with septic tanks since I have always had city water in the past and my boyfriends father was usually the one who maintains it since his property is right next door.
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-11-2015, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haley1297 View Post
The actual area where the tank is would not be near the pasture, but they do have a sprinkler system that drains it.
Not good. The surface bacteria and enzyme levels would to high on that actual grass that may be grazes upon.

If this was a municipal system then I wouldn't worry. But privet and even a corporate system is no guarantee contamination levels are below EPA standards.

As for actually being over a septic tank or leach line (the field). Technically there should be no problem. But who knows how deep, how old or how stable the ground is to support live stock above. For this reason, I would still stay away from any septic tank system when it comes to live stock.
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-11-2015, 03:12 PM
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Stay as far away as possible. I've seen a few injuries from broken sprinkler heads when turned loose over a drain field done that way. I've also seen more than I want to of horses or cows having to be pulled out of tanks. Compaction over field lines could later cause issues as well.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-11-2015, 07:32 PM
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The weight of the horse walking on a septic tank drainage field will collapse it and or mess it up. They are pretty expensive to redo.
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-11-2015, 08:32 PM
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There are many different kids of septic systems...but any system that sprays liquid above ground is not suitable for a grazing type animal due to bacteria levels.

Around here septic systems are totally underground with leachate beds which are 4+ feet (well below the frost level) below ground and there's no liquid that gets anywhere near the surface. Although it's not recommended to drive on them...animals would be no issues as there's no liquid/bacteria reaching the surface.
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-12-2015, 06:29 PM
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There are strict regulations on discharging water from a waste system above ground. There would or let's say should be no bacterial contamination. The water depending on the system goes through multiple stages and is sterilized before use in an irrigation system.
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-12-2015, 08:42 PM
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I let my horse graze over our septic system / leaching bed whenever I feel like it, but it is always in hand or in hobbles. I would not put a paddock over it though; the constant travel would definitely damage our system because it is not done properly. Even if it was proper, I couldn't have a paddock over the tank itself, as it needs to be accessed every few years, so generally isn't deep enough/covered enough to have 1200lbs of horse walking over it.

If the system is at a sufficient depth, with quality cover over the tank, tiles and drainage system, I don't see a problem, but chances are the system isn't just perfect. They rarely are and every region has different requirements - so would the requirements in your area put your system at the same depth as mine? Probably not.

In a nutshell: I wouldn't risk it. Hand grazing away from the tank - yes, but not a paddock.
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-12-2015, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by QtrBel View Post
There are strict regulations on discharging water from a waste system above ground. There would or let's say should be no bacterial contamination. The water depending on the system goes through multiple stages and is sterilized before use in an irrigation system.
...if the aerobic system is working perfectly, yes, it's reasonably clean, but using the word "sterilized" isn't exactly the case. A system without chlorine addition, well functioning, there is still a high level of fecal coliform in the above ground discharge - 10,000 CFU/ML is what is considered "clean" discharge for an aerobic system.

For a system that uses a chlorine system as the last stop before the sprinkler heads, 200 CFU/ML is still the maximum, although it might be lower...but "sterile" is highly unlikely.

For reference, zero is the standard for drinking water, and they typically close public beaches to swimming at around 250 CFU/ML.

Draw your own conclusions, but I wouldn't want horses on a sprinkler based septic system.

Again, in the north we have systems with dramatically larger and deeper leachate beds as sprinkling is simply not an option when things turn to ice and snow...so if you have a good system properly installed and deep enough a horse is unlikely to damage anything.

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post #9 of 11 Old 05-12-2015, 10:05 PM
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They just had photos going around on FB where a horse had fallen into a septic tank.

Not good idea.

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post #10 of 11 Old 05-12-2015, 10:12 PM
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Even if the horse doesn't fall in....it will screw up your drain field, you don't want that, trust me.

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