Mud Management 103: Establish a Manure Management Program

One of the best ways to control mud from building up in horse paddocks is to have a good manure management program.
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Following along with the mud management theme I began several weeks back, one of the best ways to control mud from building up in paddocks is to have a good manure management program. Mud consists of dirt, water, and fine organic material. Manure is fine organic material, and one horse can produce 50 pounds of manure a day. That amounts to more than eight tons per year per horse! Add to that the 8 to 10 gallons of urine a horse generates in a day plus the wheelbarrow or more of bedding you use, and you can see that in no time at all you will have a virtual manure mountain — and an explanation for all that mud in the paddocks!

There are other concerns for the mismanaged manure pile as well; horses allowed to graze near their own manure are quickly reinfested by larvae that hatch from the worm eggs. Runoff from soggy manure piles can cause serious surface and ground water contamination problems, something which is strictly controlled in many parts of the country. Then there are the associated odor and fly problems–if you live close to others this may concern your neighbors as well.

There are many useful ways to manage manure. You may have some ideas or experiences yourself which you’d like to share. Here are some ideas I’ve come across over the years:

Store manure and apply it to pastures.

Manure is a great fertilizer. Applying manure back to pastures creates a natural nutrient cycle that will save you money–one horse produces about $150-$300 in fertilizer value each year

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Written by:

Alayne Blickle, a lifelong equestrian and ranch riding competitor, is the creator/director of Horses for Clean Water, an award-winning, internationally acclaimed environmental education program for horse owners. Well-known for her enthusiastic, down-to-earth approach, Blickle is an educator and photojournalist who has worked with horse and livestock owners since 1990 teaching manure composting, pasture management, mud and dust control, water conservation, chemical use reduction, firewise, and wildlife enhancement. She teaches and travels North America and writes for horse publications. Blickle and her husband raise and train their mustangs and quarter horses at their eco-sensitive guest ranch, Sweet Pepper Ranch, in sunny Nampa, Idaho.

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