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Composting Manure


March 11, 2020

I live in an area with stables nearby.  We have access  to horse, mule, donkey, chicken and/or rabbit manure.   (I think these are provided separately, not all mixed together). None of this is composted; we can just arrange to get it directly from the animal owners at the stables.  My understanding is that it is just too high in acid to use directly in the gardening beds, and should be composted.  What is the best way to do this, or should we do this?  Which types of manure are best?  We have a straw bale composting system already set up.  We also have an enclosed, heavy-duty plastic drum-style composter.  We live in Eldorado, in an area that is roughly 8 miles south of Santa Fe.

We would appreciate any recommendations/direction you can provide us.  Thank you for your time and attention to this.


Answer from JZ: Your question will be received by a few master composter colleagues, who may also respond to your question. Great that you have access to a variety of vegetarian animal manures. Fresh manures are high in nitrogen, they are not necessarily acidic.  You are correct it is useful to compost any manure before adding it to garden soil, so that it is decomposed to dark colored humus, which looks similar coffee grounds when the decomposition process is complete.

A good suggestion is to compost any manure using hot process composting, which is described in our desert composting brochure available via our website menu, Desert Composting under Composting Info.  The hot process will decompose any residual weed seeds and reduce any pathogens.  Your straw bale bin setup would work well for composting manures and the drum would be fine too.

You would be welcome to attend any of our free to public basic composting classes which are listed under Activities in the website menu.

Hope that this is helpful.   Let us know if you have further questions.

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