Barn design: Loads of manure

“I’m the Butler. I like to keep things tidy.” ~ Wadsworth, Clue (the movie).

So the not-so-funny thing about poop is that when the weather is good, horses are out in their pastures/paddocks and the stalls aren’t pooped in much. You tell yourself: okay I can manage this. Then the weather goes bad, the snow drifts pile up at the barn door, the horses’ are stalled, and you are shoveling masses of poop with no place to take it!

Location and access is important. You shouldn’t locate it where it will run-off into water sources or be a stinky, eyesore for neighbors. I would use fly predators so I don’t have to put it too far away from the barn, but you don’t want it too close either. Yet, you need access during snow, especially if you have tough and long winters. If it is your intention to sell it commercially (definitely consider it for large horse barns) it must be accessed by a dump truck.

Of course a wheelbarrow is the cheapest and simplest way to go. And I’ll use it day to day, and for some quick pick ups, but there are some days when there is way too much to do. Or lets say you are boarding 6-10 horses and /or you plan on scooping and cleaning dry lots (remember, ponies!), pastures or paddocks (I do to some degree), you need something more heavy duty.

The easiest way to manage poop cleanup IMO is to have a riding lawn mower or ATV vehicle that can pull a small dump trailer. Something like this combo… (oh… yes you will be mine…)

20 cubic dump trailer should handle my horse herd

You could use it also for moving small batches of hay; handy for tight barn areas; cheaper gas use then a tractor; and is a backsaver for moving bags of pine shavings (bedding) or many feedbags from truck to barn.

Here’s the basics. Honestly, I wouldn’t let the science get too complicated: pile different sources (i.e. manure, pine bedding, leaves, chicken manure, etc…) and bake it (heat it up). If you can turn it (aerate) fine but I’ll just black tarp the top, hose it down sometimes with some chicken manure tea, and let time do it’s work.

If you add food waste (I’ll be feeding mine to the chickies), be aware you may end up with vermin issues such as raccoons, skunks, opossums and rats! If you want to compost your kitchen waste, I would do it in a tumbler system, adding in some leaves or horse manure. You can DIY one pretty inexpensively.

click photo to travel to website

For me, which I know is going to seem to a bit over the top perhaps, my plan is for a two bin, concrete block (blocks bought from CL) compost area set into a hill (if possible). Put 2 and 2 together: drive wagon to stall and load up, drive wagon through pasture and load up, wagon backs up to bin, and wagon dumps. I can rake out the remaining from the trailer using a grain shovel.

If you have a front loader on your tractor, or will be selling it commercially, make sure the width of the bins’ mouth fits a mechanical scoop (either a tractor or a Bobcat).

Within 3-6 months the first bin is ready to be either scattered onto pasture land… (yes, you will be mine…)

… sold to a commerical garden (one barn gave their huge mountain of poop to the city’s rose garden), or given away on a free compost pick up day advertised on Craigslist. See I can quite imagine me having a Compost Celebration Day where people can pick up quality compost (for free), visit my ponies and buy my herbs and eggs. Yes, that day is coming…

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11 Responses to Barn design: Loads of manure

  1. Ok, I bookmarked this one. We don’t have a hill that will suit to use as a “ramp” to the manure pile, but I do have cinder block laying around I could get my hubby to use for the side walls. (Not me, I’m a bit wiggy about snakes. I’m afraid as it is that I wouldn’t hear a rattlesnake). I do love the manure spreader and have bookmarked it as well. Have you seen the electric stall sifter dohickey? It cuts down on bedding consumption. Some day, I’ll want one of those too!

    • horseideology says:

      Hey OS you can find cinder blocks for free or very cheap on CL. I actually gave away a bunch that I had used for a dressage arena at one time. If you want them really white (hahah) paint them with cement/basement sealer.

      If you do a search, they also have designs using wooden pallets, and I have also seen those free (and picked them up) on CL.

      I haven’t seen the stall shifter! Wow! they keep dreaming it up don’t they? My horses are so seldom stalled, and I’m going to use stall mats so I’m not too worried about bedding waste but I definitely will be using stall mats. Definitely!

      • There is a giant pile of cinder block on the edge of where I’m putting the arena. It’s a big pile, so I have plenty of it around.

        I use mats too. But, the idea behind the sifter is that it takes 1/3 the time to clean the stall, cleans it more thoroughly than an apple picker, and less bedding goes with what you’re taking out. It’s a pretty nifty design.

    • horseideology says:

      OS I think if I had 8-10 horses I would be looking at that sifter! LOL!

      Is it something like this one?

      I can see for someone with 8 or more horses, especially commercial barns this would cut labor down a lot as well as save bedding. Most barns to save bedding just don’t put in very much – but I deep bed.

  2. Yep, yep! The Brockwood! I grew up working in show barns, so deep bedding is how I prefer to do it. I’ve seen minimal bedding, but then Casey ends up a “pee face”, which is just gross. He’s range-bred, so he’s a stall pig. (Something about not growing up in a stall makes them thus).

    • horseideology says:

      I’ve seen horses bedded thin and bedded deep. When I was at the Hell Job I bedded deep and as long as you know how to really pick out a stall and KEEP it picked out, I don’t think deep wastes anymore then thin as long as you use stall mats.

      Aside, it’s cheaper to buy pine shavings here in bulk, delivered and dumped in a pile (usually something like the cinder block arrangement for compost but covered) for big barns. Buying bags is more expensive in the long run.

      I would imagine being in GA with your forestry (I used to be the PR for our state’s forestry dept.) you would have access to bulk shavings.

  3. I used to use a horse-drawn dump trailerb which worked well and needed no fuel. But then we also used the draught horses to fetch hay and firewood.

    I saw an equestrian place in Germany where the manure was used to produce methane that powered the heating for the house. In a colder climate that might be a good thing to do, however it looked like a series of airtight bunkers are needed together with pipes and some aparatus.

    • horseideology says:

      J ~ you have to start thinking First World, not Third World! It’s why your back hurts 🙂

      It just doesn’t get that cold that long here. For Miles studio I’m actually planning passive solar collection and maybe geo-thermal (still researching) and lots and lots of insulation.

  4. No actually! No access to bulk shavings. They looked at me like I was weird when I asked about them. Bagged is what they do here. And I discovered that corn based pellets stretch my dollar farther than pine shavings or pine pellets. Plus, bagged bedding pellets are per pound cheaper than pine pellet cat litter, yet the same thing. So I also use pellets for the cats!

    • horseideology says:

      Oh that’s too bad!

      Are those the pellets you wet? I know some people love it, it’s just not for me.

      I’m not sure what I’ll run into up in Missouri. I still need to find horse feed and tack stores as well as pet store that sells Prescription Diet CD for the kitties (only one in T-town does).

  5. Yes, you’re supposed to wet the pine pellets, but we don’t with cat litter, so I don’t usually bother.

    The corn based ones OTOH, you do not wet. I really do like those best!

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