The Q&A Archives: Using Manures as Fertilizer

Question: We have a goat, a horse, and some chickens. We are thinking about starting our own vegetable garden. Can you tell me which of these animals produce the best fertilizer and if there is anything special that we need to do to it to make it actual "fertilizer" (as opposed to just being animal by-product)? Also, what method, how much, and how often should we apply it?? Thanks for the help. Dianne-Romelle Encino, CA

Answer: As far as fertilizer quality goes, the chicken is the best manure. However, any of the manures can be used and they can be combined also. The best way to use the manure is to compost it first. Create a 3' x 3' x 3' pile mixing 1/2 manure and 1/2 brown organic matter such as leaves, hay or straw. Keep it moist and covered with plastic. Then let it cook. It should get real hot for about two weeks. After that turn the pile and let it cook again. After about 1-2 months the fertilizer should be ready enough to use in the garden. Another method would be to spread the chicken, goat and horse manure directly on the garden in fall, till it in and let it over winter. You may loose some of the fertilizer benefits, but manure will be well broken down by then. Spreading fresh chicken manure on young plants can cause they to die from over exposure to ammonia nitrogen. Horse manure tends to have lots of weed seeds, so again it is best to compost first before using..

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