Manure management: It has to be done; here's why — Blair Lybbert, DVM
One of the downsides to our horse addiction is the endless supply of manure. Although it is reassuring to know that our horses are steadily producing multiple times a day, most of us would appreciate not having to deal with the generous supply of daily “horse apples”. Nevertheless, there are many reasons that we need to stay on top of this important chore.
Manure management involves collection, storage (temporary or long-term) and disposal or utilization. The average horse produces about 31 pounds of manure a day, or close to 9 tons in a year. For stalled horses with soiled bedding the amount of waste to be removed is close to 12 tons a year. There are multiple health and societal reasons to stay on top of waste control at your property.
Flies lay their eggs in moist manure. New flies can hatch in as little as 7 days. Flies can be annoying buzzing around, but more importantly, they can spread disease. The spread of multiple diseases has been attributed, at least in part, to fly transmission. A fly can land on infection material, then deposit that material on a wound or membrane. This is one way that Pigeon Fever spreads.
Internal parasite eggs are passed in manure. Within a few days these eggs hatch and the larva then can be ingested by grazing horses. Removal of feces doesn’t give the eggs the opportunity to develop into infective larvae.
Pens that are mucky with large portions of manure, mixed with mud, often lead to hoof and skin issues. Thrush, hoof abscesses, and pastern dermatitis issues can be minimized when footing is cleaner and drier.
Manure and urine-soaked bedding can lead to pollution as they leach into ground water or drain into bodies of water. This can affect the ecosystem associated with that body of water along with drinking water. Be conscientious about where manure piles are located and remember that waste has a far greater effect on the environment than we realize.
Odor is also a problem. Though many of us don’t mind the smell (in smaller doses), there are others who find it repulsive. Manure management will be appreciated by neighbors and will create a more aesthetic environment. Some disputes can become quite lively when it comes to odor and flies; lets all be good neighbors and conscientious horse owners by appropriately managing manure.