“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…)
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.
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…