September 24, 2014

Horse Manure Management Survey Preliminary Results

Maryland Horse Council
Horse Manure Management Surveys Project

Preliminary Results
August 2014

The Maryland Horse Council received a grant from the Maryland Horse Industry Board to conduct a series of surveys on horse manure management throughout the state.  This issue was identified as a priority concern at the 2009 Maryland Horse Forum.   Under this grant, the first survey was sent out electronically to horse farms.  The survey is voluntary and all results are anonymous.  To date, we have received over 200 responses from horse farms located throughout the state.  Here are the preliminary findings of the survey.

  • Most have 1-5 horses (43%), 6-9 horses (16%), 10-19 horses (20%). 20-49 horses (14%), 50-100 horses (6%), over 100 horses (1%)
  • Most keep horses in stalls for some period (80%)
  • Most keep horses in stalls for 7-10 hours in the summer (41%) and 11-14 hours in the winter (44%)
  • Most use sawdust for bedding (59%) followed by wood shavings (22%)
  • 42% compost and then spread horse manure and bedding
  • 30% compost and give away composted material
  • 21% pile horse manure and have it hauled away
  • 17% spread un-composted horse manure and bedding
  • 13% put horse manure and bedding in dumpsters to be hauled off
  • 3% compost and sell composted manure
  • 59% use horse manure as a fertilizer on their own farm, 41% do not
  • The most common equipment/infrastructure for manure management are a compost pile, spreader and bucket loader
  • Most farms dedicate 1-5 person hours per week to manure management (in addition to regular stall cleaning)
  • If the manure is hauled off the farm, 65% reported a monthly pick up, 19% weekly, 16% bi-weekly
  • Hauling fees range from $90 to $1000 depending on amount and frequency
  • 15 hauling companies for horse manure were identified
  • Most horse farms (50%) do not know where their haulers take the manure, 32% goes to a composing facility, 10% to mushroom farms, 6% to a landfill and 2% to a nursery
  • Most horse farms (67%) would not haul their own horse manure to a regional composting facility
  • Over half (59%) were satisfied with their system of manure management, 34% somewhat satisfied, 7% not satisfied
  • Most of those unsatisfied with their present manure management system cited cost as their primary concern (46%), followed by lack of information on alternatives (22%), lack of space on the farm (20%) and time limitations (12%)
  • Statements on the ideal manure management system include on-farm composting for on-farm use, on-farm composting for sale/gifts and hauling off at no or low cost
  • Most farms (79%) have never used available technical assistance or cost sharing programs from state or county agencies. Of the 21% who did use these programs, a third found them helpful, a third found them not helpful and a third found them somewhat helpful. Of this 21% who used the programs, most (70%) would like to have more funding available.
  • Final comments from respondents to the question, “Are there any other issues related to horse manure management that you recommend be added to the agenda of the Maryland Horse Council?”  (shortened versions)
    • “Need more access to information”
    • “Find a way for horse people to sell their manure”
    • “Assure that haulers are disposing of the manure properly”
    • “Need cost effective systems”
    • “Connect manure users with providers”
    • “Reduce paperwork”
    • “Help small farm operators”
    • “Pest control”
    • “Study persistent herbicides”
    • “More information on state, county and municipal laws and regulations”
    • “More training on composting and manure management”

Preliminary conclusions:

  • Many small horse farms are interested in on-farm composting
  • The manure hauling business is very locally-driven and segmented
  • There are concerns about cost and regulations for manure management
  • There is un-met demand for technical and financial assistance for manure management


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