Build a Horse Manure Composting System

Build a Horse Manure Composting System

Time to build a new compost bin?

Use this diagram as a guideline to build a compost bin.. Photo: Illustration by Elizabeth Clark Spring is a great time to make plans for building your new manure composting bins! Composting is my favorite manure management technique – it

 

Use this diagram as a guideline to build a compost bin..

Photo: Illustration by Elizabeth Clark

Spring is a great time to make plans for building your new manure composting bins! Composting is my favorite manure management technique – it provides us with a free, easy and very valuable soil amendment that will improve the health of pastures, lawn or garden.

There are many possible bin designs but here is one low-tech option, best suited for small properties with one to three horses:

1. Figure out how many bins you need

You will need at least two bins, maybe a third for convenience. A two-bin system works by piling manure and stall wastes in one bin. When that bin is full allow it to compost and start filling the second bin. Once the first bin is done composting you can start using the finished compost material. For convenience or if you have several horses you may want to consider going to three bins. This allows one bin for the daily stall wastes, another bin that is full and in the composting stage, and a third bin for the finished compost to be removed and used as you need it.

2. Select a site

Look for a high, level area on your property – don’t put your composter in a low-lying area or it will turn into a soggy mess. Remember you must locate your composter far away from creeks, ditches, wetlands or other water bodies – you can check with local authorities for specific regulations on this. Choose a location that’s convenient to your stall and paddock areas to make the chore of cleaning up easier and less time consuming. Also think about what you want to do with the finished product. If you want to apply it to pastures you might want your bins between paddocks and pastures. If you want to give away the finished product you might want to locate your bins closer to your driveway.

3. Review materials and equipment list and purchase what’s needed.

It costs about $300 – $500 per bin for materials depending on the type of wood you use, the cost in your area and whether your bins share a wall. Feel free to improvise and experiment by choosing materials available in your area that will work for your situation.

For three adjacent 8 foot x 8 foot x 4 foot bins, the following supplies and equipment are needed:

SUPPLIES
8 – 8’ x 6” x 6” treated posts – 2.4 metres x 150mm x 150mm.
110 – 8’ landscape timbers, treated or cedar wood – 2.4 metre.
160 – 3” deck screws – 75mm.
Tarp (or plastic sheet) to cover top of each bin.
Heavy items or straps to attach tarp to bins.

EQUIPMENT
Drill with screwdriver head & drill bit.
25’ tape measure – 7.5 metres.
Chain saw or hand saw.
Carpenter’s level.
Post hole digger.
Tamping rod or similar tool.

4. Construct your bins

Use the drawing and photos as a guide, but feel free to experiment or improvise on plans or materials. Two people can build this compost bin system in a weekend.

Photo by Alayne Blickle
Photo by Alayne Blickle

Let me know how it works out for you. Happy composting!

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