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Orchid Lady

We have a farm locally and several people that keep horses so while I am off next week, I am on a mission to try and get a regular supplier of lovely horse manure 

My question is, what do I do with it?  Should I buy another compost bin and fill it up and leave it to use in spring, or can it be out straight on the garden now? Or a bit of both??

I have heard / read differing things so was just wondering.

Thank you.

(PS No answers that are scientifically challenging please, I only got C's in my GCSE Chemistry and Physics )


I would stack it in a spare bin, and let it rot for a year. If you turn it once and make sure it doesn;t get too dry, it will rot better. It is ready for use when it is crumbly and does not smell.

Orchid Lady

So just a normal bin is ok or do you mean a compost bin?  I have a normal bin spare but don't think it would be big enough?

Aldi have compost bins for £17 so was thinking if getting one if I can get horse manure 

Busy Bee2

We have a local supply - free and pick your own!  I use those builders buckets to collect it - less messy than trying to fill old compost sacks.  The pile consists of new manure, and manure that has been standing there a while.  The aged manure has the advantage of being pre-rotted.  The difference is that it is more like brown crumbly soil when you collect it, and less like 'apples'.  It also smells less pooey.  If you collect new stuff, 6 months is a rough guide to when it will be 'well-rotted', and if you keep it in a pile it will heat itself up, and I suppose if you put it in a bin it might rot faster.  Some people use a bit of it to mix with other compost materials in a general bin.  If you spread it about, it won't heat up to rot, but eventually the worms will drag it under, but if it has not rotted, it might 'burn' the plants - presumably with uric acid or something, but I don't know the exact bio-chemical reasons - just know it can burn the plants.  Also, if it hasn't rotted, I think it is harder for the goodness to come out and get into the plants.  But I know there were people years ago who picked it up off the road and slung it round their roses immediately, probably leaving a gap round the stem of the plant so it wasn't touching.  You are right, there is lots of conflicting advice on the net, and I never really got to the bottom of manure, but the above is pretty much everything I know.  (Oh and that you need to be sure of the stables that they don't use any chemicals that would upset plants in their care of the horses).  I know nothing of the stables here, except that lots of other local gardeners help themselves and have done for years, so I presume it must be good stuff.  Good luck on your hunt.  I think it is hard to go wrong, and the smell isn't that bad really. 


You could even use a cheap dustbin.

Any spare stuff can be used in a compost bin, mixed up with any other suitable stuff such as grass cuttings and shredded prunings.

Rose growers used to use the fresh droppings to put around the roses, and then let it rot on the surface. Fresh stuff cannot be dug in as it is.


Orchid Lady

Right, so the bin I have (an old metal one) I can use and fill it up (may also get another one). Does that need holes or anything to let air in?

If a passing horse messes in front of my house I can do what my grandad used to do and put it on my roses, but not use it for anything else.

Anything left over, I can put in the compost bin.

I think I've got it 

Orchid Lady, be careful.

Find out what they use as bedding, my Son now uses straw in his stables though at one time he used sawdust and chippings both need a long time to rot down. He piles it in a heap from which I take a bag that is around 1-2 years old, pick up a hand full and smell it, soft crumbly and sweet smelling is the aim.

At home I add it to the compost heaps in thin layers as I turn the compost then use that as a mulch or to add goodness to hungry growers like sweet peas tomato's etc. Raw manure will burn your plants and can contain weed seeds which is why it needs to be well and truly rotted down, the heat should kill the weeds.

My father used our horse manure in hot boxes to start early plants and Veg plus fruit such as strawberries, the well rotted stuff went into the base of the potato drills and we always had the best.

Hope this helps.


Orchid Lady

That's great Frank.  All the horses near us use straw/hay, I see it being delivered.  I want some to use for my potatoes next year and also to dig into my veg patch for the root veg next year, it's too late for this year now but am starting to be even better prepared for next year 

Then just pile it in a corner out of sight throw a cover over it and leave it until needed, the worms will have a field day and the heat from its own rotting down make it all the better.


Orchid Lady

Ah right, so no need for a bin, although I may need one because ****disgusting alert - non dog lovers don't read!!*** my beagles like to eat horse poo (urghhhhh!!!!) Although, only when fresh!!! Apparently there is something in it that 'tastes nice'!!!!

Busy Bee2

Which is why we don't have a dog!!


Just one thing to check OL, make sure that the pasture land the horses are grazed on has'nt been sprayed with herbicide, my brother got a load a couple of years back and he was'nt aware that the pasture had been treated. It killed a lot of his plants, all of his sweet peas.Apparently some herbicides will pass through the horses digestive system and still be active in the manure.

Most supplies are fine, just check first.

If it was me I would just leave the manure in a pile rather than put it in a bin.

Orchid Lady

I have some old paving stones we aren't using that are piled up 'just in case' so I might make a mini wall in a corner with them, fill it with manure and cover with plastic held down with more paving slabs, that should work 

I will ask about the pasture, thanks Scroggin.  The people down the lane don't use anything as they aren't farmers, just keep the horses in the field and my next door neighbour owns one of the fields so I am going to ask him first 

flowering rose

it has to well rotted before putting on plants.



Do check about the herbicide; there is a wild plant that is poisonous for horse; I think it is Ragwort, some owners hand weed their fields, some use chemicals.

I keep my (single estate) horse manure in black rubble sacks with clothes pegs on top and so far my Jack Russell (who also is partial to horse manure) has not shown any interest in them.

I too put it fresh around the roses, not touching the stems and use a shovel in the compost bin every time it is turned; really speeds things up in the bin.

This one for Frank - because I can't send a pm - glad to see you back!  All the best.  Ma.


 I worked with horses for a very long time and I have plenty of free supplies! There's not much I don't know about horse **** 

Just contain it as best you can OL. Frank's right - if you've got a corner somewhere and something to cover it with, that'll do fine. If you have a bin - use that, but like any rotting material, it needs some air and some moisture.  Turn it every now and again if you can. The advice already given is all correct. Shavings are more widely used now for bedding and it can take a bit longer to rot down than straw, but I put a load on my new beds last August/September and covered them. It's all broken down now. I used some in the compost bin - no shavings there at all. It's brilliant stuff so it's worth making a bit of room for it somewhere.

Hello Hypercharleyfarley, I had no problem with the personal message when contacted to ask if I was still on the planet, we exchanged a couple of messages no bother, now there is a problem???

I was not back really just ducking in and out, the best laid plans so they say I read some of the queries and got drawn in, it may or may not last.

Regards Frank.

Orchid Lady

Frank, quite a few people are having problems with PM at the moment, it has been reported and Daniel has put a post on.  It's only started in the last few days after you returned 

Thanks for the advice everyone, I will let you know if I can get any, I'm sure I will be able to.

Artjak, your post made me smile, at least I'm not alone