· John Heider's Answer
· Hi yankiefrankie-In home gardens especially vegetable gardens it is my opinion that fresh horse manure should not be used unless well composted. There are several reasons for this but the most important reason is the fact that it can pose a serious health risk. Fresh manure contains bacteria and other harmful organisms which can contaminate your vegetable garden causing not so nice diseases such as e coli in us humans. Besides harmful organisms the fresh manure contains seeds and unless the horses were feed non germinating grains and hay you will most likely end up with a garden overrun with weeds. Composting creates enough heat from decomposing organic matter that will distroy harmful organisms and any weed seeds in the manure. Composting your manure will also help in guarding against your neighbors screaming about a funny smell coming from your garden for awhile. In many city limits, spreading fresh manure on your property is against city ordinance and another reason it is best to use only well composted manure. Horse manure more so than a good fertilizer helps to add organic matter to the soil that will decompose into humus making the soil a richer, moisture-retaining soil, making nutrients more readily available to plants. Using horse manure to continually replenish the soils organic matter I believe is its real benefit as it is fairly low in the Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium needed for plant growth. Horses are grazers mainly consuming roughage like grass and hay that produces a bulky, humus rich manure, but one that is faily low in the three essential elements.
There are many that say they have never had any problems with fresh horse manure causing any health or plant damaging problems. Cooperative Extension Services recommend using only well composted manure to always be on the safe side. Many feel if this manure is being used around edible fruits and vegetables it should be composted for at least one year. There is much that can be found on the internet and at your local cooperative extension servise regarding the use of fresh manures. Myself, I would not use it in my garden without composting it properly before spreading. I noted below a link to a good article from the Washington State University Cooperative Extension regarding composting of Horse Manure that may be interesting and helpful to you. This article explains the benefits of composting and how to compost the manure. Just click on the link to go directly to the guide and other information on composting.http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/horsecompost.htm
Hopefully this has answered your question. Please ask if you have any others.