By Maddy Butcher Gray

Cattle farmers, especially in Europe, are creating sustainable, even profitable methods for dealing with waste. Cows produce a digestive gas called enteric methane. Simply released to the atmosphere, it contributes to global warming. But if you harness it, manurepoop can provide power.

But what about horse manure?

Dr. William Martin-Rosset looked into the pros and cons of horse waste and delivered his findings at this year’s French Equine Research Day. Martin-Rosset is head of equine nutrition research at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA).

Turns out horse manure is not nearly as harmful as cow manure when it comes to global warming. In France, cows produce 90 percent of the nation’s enteric methane. Horses create less than two percent.
An average horse produces nine tons of manure each year; from that, about 46 pounds of methane gas are emitted.

“Our work reveals that equids are only weak contributors to global warming due to their anatomy and digestive physiology,” Martin-Rosset said. Read additional article.

Nonetheless, horse manure can provide a good energy source through methanization. In Chantilly, France, for example, thousands of horses contribute to a manure-to-electricity project. Read more.

Moving into the future, it’s conceivable that manure may be a hot commodity of sorts. Researchers looked at how mushrooms grow in horse manure, compared with other animal manure. Read more.

Composting deceased horses under manure instead of burying them is becoming a prudent alternative. In Maine, for instance, burying carcasses is actually against the law in some areas and cremating is expensive. Read more about Compassionate Composting, Michelle Melaragno’s pioneering business.

ppOn a smaller scale, scientists help us individual horse owners understand some important and more relevant facts about manure:

  • Fresh manure can be harmful if used immediately as a fertilizer. Read more.
  • Manure in pastures and paddocks should be removed or broken down to reduce parasite build-up.
  • Composted manure can provide nutrient-rich soil if allowed to age properly.
  • Medications and chemicals we give our horses end up in their manure. In turn, that manure can be harmful to the environment if introduced into the water table or used to fertilize gardens, etc.

What’s the best muck rake? Check out NickerNews Bestuvs

What’s a “Zone of Repugnance”? Find out here.


  1. I grow my fruit trees in 100% PURE HORSE MANURE. I grow all my fruit trees from seed. I have been growing fruit trees from seeds in California USA since 2008. I have two horses out in the field and collect their manure. I do not bother to compost it, although that is nicer to work with. I plant my seeds, my 1 inch seedlings and my 3 foot to nine foot trees in 5, 15 and 55 gallon barrels in pure straight out the horse, still warm horse manure..
    Horse manure stops smelling after 2 days and in any case is extremely mild compared with other manures that really stink like pig, cattle and bird manure.

    The horse manure composts slowly over a year in the container with the seedlings and trees growing nicely.

    So far I have grown apple,apricot, avocado (oldest one now 9 foot tall and 6 years old in a 55 gallon barrel, starting to flower. It will bear avocados this year), almond,carob,chestnut, fig, grapes from seed not cuttings,hazelnut,loquat, mulberry, nectarine, peach, pecan, persimmon and plum.

    Other trees that grow nicely are oak, pepper (schinus molle), coastal redwoods and many others that have blown or added to horse manure, I have collected from stabled horses as well.

    If the weeds come up, I pull them out. I collect the horse manure in the natural grass fields around my house and often grass and plant seeds are encrusted in the manure, so they grow and I pull them out.

    So try it, before you trash it. It has worked for me since 2008.

    Try the other herbivores too.

    After all growing plants or trees is 99% about sunlight, water and drainage. Get those 3 in balance and you are a plant expert.

    Chris Landau

    Monterey County, California

    March 10, 2015

  2. I used horse manure 1st time last year on citrus trees. The pomelo came up very dry and tasteless. Could that be the result of high Nitrogen from hôtesse manure?

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