Home Gardening Does Manure Need To Be Composted?

Does Manure Need To Be Composted? – GIY Plants

Pile of manure in field.

Manure and compost are popular choices when it comes to enriching garden soil. But a question often arises: Does manure need to be composted before use? We delve into this topic to provide a comprehensive answer.

What is Manure?

Manure is an organic material, primarily animal feces, used to fertilize the soil. It’s rich in nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, which are essential for plant growth. However, fresh manure may contain harmful pathogens and weed seeds.

What is Compost?

Compost is decomposed organic matter, which can include kitchen waste, garden waste, and, yes, manure. Composting is a controlled process that turns organic material into a nutrient-rich soil conditioner.

Types of Manure: Not All Manure is Created Equal

Different animals produce different types of manure. Cow manure, chicken manure, and horse manure are commonly used. Each type varies in nutrient content and decomposition rate.

The Risks of Using Fresh Manure

Fresh manure is high in nitrogen and can “burn” plants if applied directly. It may also contain harmful bacteria and parasites. Moreover, fresh manure can introduce weed seeds into your garden.

The Benefits of Composting Manure

Composting manure allows more manure contact with microbes, speeding up decomposition. This eliminates harmful pathogens and weed seeds. Composted manure is also easier to handle and apply.

Hot Composting vs. Cold Composting

Thermometer in a compost pile reading 100 degrees during a hot compost method.

Hot composting is a faster method but requires careful monitoring. Cold composting takes longer but is less labor-intensive. Both ways are effective for composting manure.

How Much Manure Should You Use?

The amount of manure to use depends on its type and the needs of your garden plants. A soil test can provide valuable information on what your soil lacks.

Manure in the Fall, Compost in the Spring

Applying fresh manure in the fall gives it time to decompose before the growing season. Compost, on the other hand, can be used in the spring as it is already decomposed.

The Composting Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

1. Collect Manure: Gather manure from farm animals, avoiding dog or pig manure due to potential pathogens.

2. Prepare the Compost Pile: Mix manure with other composting materials like garden waste.

3. Turn the Pile: Regular turning allows more contact of manure with microbes.

4. Monitor Temperature: Use a compost thermometer to ensure the pile reaches a temperature that will kill pathogens.

5. Harvest Compost: Once fully decomposed, your compost is ready to enrich your garden soil.

Purchased Bagged Composted Manure

If you need a supply of fresh manure, bagged, composted manure is available. Ensure it’s from a reputable source to guarantee quality.


While it’s possible to use fresh manure, composting it first is generally safer and more beneficial for your garden. Composting reduces risks and enhances the beneficial properties of manure.

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