Ask a Question forum: Rotted Manure

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Waterford, PA
RAOldach
Jan 8, 2018 9:23 PM CST
Hello!
I am starting my first small vegetable garden this year, and I am using The Vegetable Gardener's Bible (Edward C. Smith) and MiniFarming (Brett L. Markham) as my guides. I've read a lot of information about the benefits or rotted manure. As luck (or fate) would have it, there is a farm with about 30-40 head of cattle just down the road. My questions:
1. Is it appropriate to visit or write the farmer and ask if he would be willing to sell me rotted manure?
2. Do I need to be specific in terms of how "aged" the manure needs to be?
3. I have seen cases where a certain DowAgro chemical (aminopyralid) applied to hay has caused major issues in the garden - is it appropriate to inquire with the farmer if such chemical has been used?
A sincere thank you for your time!
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Jan 8, 2018 10:27 PM CST
There are several herbicides used on hay meadows that can show up in the manure of the animals fed the hay. The farmer may not be aware of their presence if he buys his hay instead of growing it himself. Also, unless the cows are stabled or otherwise confined the manure may not be collected and available for purchase. The manure needs to be aged enough that it is dry and crumbly - easy to handle. Go talk to the farmer, the worst he can do is say no.
Porkpal
Name: Sue
SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b)
Container Gardener Canning and food preservation Dog Lover
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Zuni
Jan 9, 2018 12:29 AM CST
I agree, just ask. If you're offering to pay for it, it won't seem like you're being overly picky, I don't think. If you wanted it for free and started asking for specifics, that might annoy them. But, I doubt they'd care about being specific, if you're offering to pay for it. Plus, they may just tell you you're welcome to take it for free.

You might not get anything really super composted, but you can always put it in a pile to be used later.

If you are pointed to a pile to shovel it yourself, that could actually be a great way to get a bunch of worms, too. Worms are most likely in the manure pile and they will help aerate your soil and also add their own fertilizer to the mix. They will also get that manure composted really fast. They actually eat it, and turn it into worm castings.

As far as anything bad in the manure - I don't think I'd worry about it. I'm not familiar with what you're referring to, but whatever it is didn't kill the cow LOL. And, when manure composts in a pile, it gets really hot, so most seeds, etc., get killed off.

Enjoy your garden! Who knows, maybe the farmer is also a master gardener and will teach you some great stuff about what will grow well locally - for free. A bonus to go with your manure.
[Last edited by Zuni - Jan 9, 2018 12:33 AM (+)]
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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Jan 9, 2018 7:28 AM CST
Believe me, herbicides can make it through a cow and damage your broad leaf plants.
Porkpal
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
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sallyg
Jan 9, 2018 7:55 AM CST
If the cow farmer doesn't work out- Are there horse farms around? Keep an eye on the paper, or visit a place that sells horse feed, and ask. Some even post a sign with phone number to call and arrange your visit.

Horse stables have to muck the stalls and seem to all have a nice pile going and like help getting rid of it. Many use sawdust for bedding which makes a nicer, drier manure pile. I think horse manure has more 'fiber' in it.

You still could have the question about hay/herbicides. But it seems to me, every person using horse manure has that question. I haven't had any problems.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Jan 9, 2018 12:46 PM CST
If you are just starting, you can get by with manure that is far from crumbly by putting it on your future bed and working it in as soon as you can.
I use sheep manure and it is far from well rotted but I usually put it on in the fall, let it sit all winter and work it in in spring.
Some years I will do the whole shebang in spring.
The results are amazing.
Name: Sue
SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b)
Container Gardener Canning and food preservation Dog Lover
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Zuni
Jan 10, 2018 12:47 AM CST
Horse manure can have a lot of seeds in it - just depends on what they're eating. But, you can always use black plastic to heat up the soil and kill the seeds - or cover a compost pile with black plastic to kill the seeds.

Reminds me of when I was first learning about using straw in the garden and went to the feed store and bought a bale of hay - instead of straw to use as mulch. LOL. I had so many weeds it was insane.
[Last edited by Zuni - Jan 10, 2018 12:48 AM (+)]
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Waterford, PA
RAOldach
Jan 14, 2018 11:44 AM CST
Thanks very much, I really appreciate all of the feedback and information. I will watch in the paper and local marketplace forums, and I will talk to the clerk at the feed store this week.

There are only cows in my immediate area, but definitely sheep and horses within 25 miles or so.

I will let you know what the farmers has to say, or anything else I find out.

Sincerest thanks again for your time and input.
Wyoming (Zone 4a)
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Ape_Goblin
Jan 20, 2018 10:54 PM CST
Also, you could get a larger quantity of less smelly compost from the plant matter the cow ate. Cow guts are full of assnaerobic bacteria, and gardens generally need aerobic bacteria

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