Thursday, September 25, 2014

Horse Manure Management Survey Preliminary Results

Maryland Horse Council
Horse Manure Management Surveys Project
Preliminary Results
August 2014
The Maryland Horse Council received a grant from the Maryland Horse Industry Board to conduct a series of surveys on horse manure management throughout the state.  This issue was identified as a priority concern at the 2009 Maryland Horse Forum.   Under this grant, the first survey was sent out electronically to horse farms.  The survey is voluntary and all results are anonymous.  To date, we have received over 200 responses from horse farms located throughout the state.  Here are the preliminary findings of the survey.
Ø      Most have 1-5 horses (43%), 6-9 horses (16%), 10-19 horses (20%). 20-49 horses (14%), 50-100 horses (6%), over 100 horses (1%)
Ø      Most keep horses in stalls for some period (80%)
Ø      Most keep horses in stalls for 7-10 hours in the summer (41%) and 11-14 hours in the winter (44%)
Ø      Most use sawdust for bedding (59%) followed by wood shavings (22%)
Ø      42% compost and then spread horse manure and bedding
Ø      30% compost and give away composted material
Ø      21% pile horse manure and have it hauled away
Ø      17% spread un-composted horse manure and bedding
Ø      13% put horse manure and bedding in dumpsters to be hauled off
Ø      3% compost and sell composted manure
Ø      59% use horse manure as a fertilizer on their own farm, 41% do not
Ø      The most common equipment/infrastructure for manure management are a compost pile, spreader and bucket loader
Ø      Most farms dedicate 1-5 person hours per week to manure management (in addition to regular stall cleaning)
Ø      If the manure is hauled off the farm, 65% reported a monthly pick up, 19% weekly, 16% bi-weekly
Ø      Hauling fees range from $90 to $1000 depending on amount and frequency
Ø      15 hauling companies for horse manure were identified
Ø      Most horse farms (50%) do not know where their haulers take the manure, 32% goes to a composing facility, 10% to mushroom farms, 6% to a landfill and 2% to a nursery
Ø      Most horse farms (67%) would not haul their own horse manure to a regional composting facility
Ø      Over half (59%) were satisfied with their system of manure management, 34% somewhat satisfied, 7% not satisfied
Ø      Most of those unsatisfied with their present manure management system cited cost as their primary concern (46%), followed by lack of information on alternatives (22%), lack of space on the farm (20%) and time limitations (12%)
Ø      Statements on the ideal manure management system include on-farm composting for on-farm use, on-farm composting for sale/gifts and hauling off at no or low cost
Ø      Most farms (79%) have never used available technical assistance or cost sharing programs from state or county agencies. Of the 21% who did use these programs, a third found them helpful, a third found them not helpful and a third found them somewhat helpful. Of this 21% who used the programs, most (70%) would like to have more funding available.
Ø      Final comments from respondents to the question, “Are there any other issues related to horse manure management that you recommend be added to the agenda of the Maryland Horse Council?”  (shortened versions)
“Need more access to information”
“Find a way for horse people to sell their manure”
“Assure that haulers are disposing of the manure properly”
“Need cost effective systems”
“Connect manure users with providers”
“Reduce paperwork”
“Help small farm operators”
“Pest control”
“Study persistent herbicides”
“More information on state, county and municipal laws and regulations”
“More training on composting and manure management”

Preliminary conclusions:
Ø      Many small horse farms are interested in on-farm composting
Ø      The manure hauling business is very locally-driven and segmented
Ø      There are concerns about cost and regulations for manure management
Ø      There is un-met demand for technical and financial assistance for manure management

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Maryland Horse Council Farm Stewardship Committee
Fall Meeting


Monday, October 13
Columbus Day
2:00 – 4:00 pm

Brooke Grove Farm
A Certified Agricultural Conservation Steward

                                                             18420 Brooke Grove Road                         
Olney, Maryland


Welcome: Jane Thery, Chair, Maryland Horse Council Farm Stewardship Committee

Tour of the Brooke Grove Farm Composting Operation:
 Dr. Charlie Mess, Owner, Brooke Grove Farm

Composting Options for Small, Medium and Large Farms: 
Mollie Bogardus, Equine and Agriculture Specialist, Green Mountain Technologies

Technical and Financial Assistance for Composting:  
Eddie Franceschi, Equine Resource Conservationist, Montgomery Soil Conservation District

Refreshments Provided

Monday, September 8, 2014

Composting ! October 13: Next Farm Stewardship Meeting

Hold the Date


Monday, October 13

Columbus Day

2:00 – 4:00 pm


Brooke Grove Farm

18420 Brooke Grove Road

Olney, Maryland


Composing:  Modern Management of

Our Organic Horse Manure


Tour of the Brooke Grove Farm Composting Operation by Charlie Mess


Details on Other Speakers Coming Soon


Refreshments Provided

Composting on Small Horse Farms

Two good articles from Michigan State University on composting and storing manure on small horse farms.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Composting Ideas. Topic of Next Farm Stewardship Meeting October 13

For One to Three Horses

Build a Horse Manure Composting System

·        Source: Horses for Clean Water

Summer is the perfect time for construction projects and a key management component for horse properties is having something useful to do with horse manure. Composting is my favorite technique and while there are many bin designs and ideas for how to compost, here is one low-tech option, best suited for small properties with one to three horses.

Look for a high, level area on your property – don’t put your composter in a low-lying area or it will turn into a soggy mess. Remember you must locate your composter far away from creeks, ditches, wetlands or other water bodies – you can check with local authorities for specific regulations on this. Choose a location that’s convenient to your stall and paddock areas to make the chore of cleaning up easier and less time consuming.

1. Select a site
You will need at least two bins, maybe a third for convenience. A two-bin system works by piling manure and stall wastes in one bin. When that bin is full allow it to compost and start filling the second bin. Once the first bin is done composting you can start using the finished compost material. For convenience or if you have several horses you may want to consider going to three bins. This allows one bin for the daily stall wastes, another bin that is full and in the composting stage, and a third bin for the finished compost to be removed and used at your leisure.
2. Figure out how many bins you need
A list of materials and tools needed is included. It costs about $300 per bin for materials depending on the type of wood you use and the cost in your area. Feel free to improvise and experiment by choosing materials available in your area, which will work for you and your situation.
3. Purchase materials
 For three adjacent 8-foot x 8-foot x 4-foot bins, the following supplies and equipment are needed:
8 – 8' x 6"x 6" treated posts 
110 – 8' landscape timbers (or similar wood)
160 – 3" deck screws 
Tarp (or plastic sheet) to cover top of each bin 
Heavy items or straps to attach tarp to bins
Drill with screwdriver head and drill bit
25' tape measure
Drill with screwdriver head and drill bit
Chain saw or hand saw
Carpenter’s level
Post hole digger
Tamping rod or similar tool



Alayne Renée Blickle, a life-long equestrian and reining competitor, is the creator/director of Horses for Clean Water, an award winning, nationally acclaimed environmental education program. Well known for her enthusiastic, down-to-earth approaches, Alayne is an educator and photojournalist who has worked with horse and livestock owners for over 15 years teaching manure composting, pasture management, mud and dust control, water conservation, chemical use reduction and wildlife enhancement. She teaches and travels North America and writes for horse publications. Alayne and her husband raise and train their reining horses at their ranch in sunny Nampa, Idaho.