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Muck spreading your horse paddock good or bad?

Spreading horse manure is a great way to get rid of your muck heap and give back to the ground the more natural way. The thing is we take from the ground but we very rarely give back

But not so fast.  There are a few things to consider, and I’ll start with worms.  Not earthworms, but horse parasites. 

The horse manure that you spread is basically chopped up grass mainly and doesn’t take long to integrate with the soil. 

Most of us are fully aware that parasites are transmitted from horse to horse via the mature. So when spreading it we are giving the parasites back to the ground and then in return passing it on. So worm counts and wormer is the best way to stop any of this spread and keep everything as safe as you can.

  • Most of us are aware of faecal egg counts and a deworming schedule.  So I’ll add a few commonly misunderstood points here.  The faecal egg count is not the “be-all and end-all” of worm control.  There are several different tests, not all faecal tests are designed for all worms. So when cautious when picking a company and really do your research before deciding on a company to do this for you.  
  • Egg counts must be conducted at the correct time in the life cycle of the specific worms you are testing for.  Also, some worms (like pinworms) will never show up on an egg count as their eggs are not passed in manure. Ideally, you will be doing egg counts in the Spring and Autumn.
  • Ideally, a regular worming schedule for your herd is best.  The entire yard’s horses need to be monitored so you know whats going on in the herd. They should all ideally be wormed at the same time so they are all on the correct working clock. You should be able to keep on top of it and have minimal worms needed. I wouldn’t suggest worming regularly as the chemicals can cause many problems. What I suggest is worm counts and worm when necessary.

So what does deworming and egg counts have to do with spreading horse manure?

Well, many farms and equestrian yards spread horse manure on paddocks to help be a bit more “green” and to harness the natural fertilization powers of horse manure. 

  • When spreading manure try and avoid rainy seasons, frozen ground, and only spread in thin layers.  Rain can cause runoff and can create an ideal environment for parasites if there are any. Which you do not want happening.
  • When spreading manure try and avoid rainy seasons, frozen ground, and only spread in thin layers.  Rain can cause runoff and can create an ideal environment for parasites if there are any. Which you do not want happening.
  •  You can spread the maure via hand in thin layers or via tractors or pull along on a quad. These spreaders will chop the chuck out the manure, so it easily spreads thinly and decomposes into the earth easily. 
  • Spread your muck on paddocks that are at rest for a few weeks at least, but ideally a few months i tend to spread for a few months on the summer paddock then leave for three months then do the same on the winter paddock. But it can be used by animals other than horses.    
  •  Always avoid areas near wells, streams, run-off areas, etc. As this can contaminate the natural water source and nobody wants that.

Remember – If you are spreading wood shavings or straw be aware that this will take precious nitrogen from the soil which will defeat the whole purpose.  You will need to add nitrogen fertilizer, or you can use composted wood and horse manure.

AND, because I know some of you are wondering,  it’s NOT ok to just let fresh manure piles rest in the paddocks. This causes weed issues and dead grass….

Also, horses normally avoid grazing around poop, so you end up with tall patches that are ungrazed and bare patches that are overgrazed.  Not to mention the new fly breeding micro-farm that will pop up in each poop pile. The tall patches are also wonderful gathering places for ticks and let’s be honest, no one really likes ticks.

Happy Thursday, Until next time

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