Horse Manure in Pasture - Horses [Skip to Content]

Illinois Livestock Trail

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We board our horses at a barn with prox 22 other horses & 18 acres of pasture. The owner wants to know if it is safe to spread manure over the pasture or would it be better to have it hauled off? The manure is sitting in a big pile and has not been necessarily composted? I thought it could burn the grass, plus encourage parasite infestation in the horses.


Spreading uncomposted manure on horse pastures is not recommended for several reasons. First, as you have already stated, it will distribute viable parasite eggs and larvae onto the pasture allowing for reinfestation of the horses that graze it. (Raw horse manure can be safely spread on pastures that will be grazed by cows, however, because cows are immune to the parasites that affect horses.) Secondly, the manure most likely contains weed seeds, which, when put on pasture, will be able to germinate and result in an increased weed problem in the pasture. Additionally, the form of nitrogen that is found in raw manure is not very stable and can cause ammonia volatilization and deposition.

Implementing a composting protocol would allow the owner to spread the finished compost product onto the pastures without concern because the composting process kills parasite eggs, weed seeds and stabilizes the nitrogen in the manure (when composted properly). Additionally, composting will reduce the amount of waste by 50% resulting in significantly less to spread or haul away.

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