Composting Sheep Manure: How To Compost Sheep Manure For The Garden


By: Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

Using sheep manure for the garden is not a new idea. People all over the world have been using animal manures as a very effective organic material in gardens for a very, very long time. Sheep manure is referred to as cold manure because of its low nitrogen content. This makes it an excellent addition to any garden.

Benefits of Sheep Manure as Fertilizer

Sheep manure, like other animal manures, is a natural slow-release fertilizer. Nutrients in sheep manure fertilizer provide adequate nourishment for a garden. It is high in both phosphorus and potassium, essential elements for optimal plant growth. These nutrients help plants to establish strong roots, defend against pests and grow into vibrant and productive plants.

Sheep manure can also be used as organic mulch. Because of its low odor, sheep manure can easily be used to top dress garden beds. A garden bed that has a high level of organic matter drains well and has a high number of earthworms and soil microbial activity, all good for plants.

Composting Sheep Manure

Composting sheep manure is similar to composting other animal manures. The manure must have time to age before using it in the garden. Composting bins can be constructed to hold sheep manure and require regular aeration for proper curing. Some people enjoy composting sheep manure in bins that allow you to drain out the sheep manure tea. This tea contains a very concentrated amount of vital plant nutrients and can be diluted with water for regular application on garden plants.

Finding Sheep Manure for the Garden

It is best to seek out a local source of sheep manure if you can. Oftentimes, farmers will sell the manure to you for a reasonable price. Some farmers will even allow you to come and collect your own manure, a venture well worth the time.

Applying Sheep Manure

Many people may ask, “Is composted sheep manure safe for vegetables?” The answer is an astounding, yes! It is perfectly safe for both vegetables and flower gardens alike and will have your plants blooming like never before. Apply composted sheep manure to gardens using a thick layering technique or work it into the soil. Sheep manure tea can be diluted and applied to plants during watering.

Using sheep manure as fertilizer is safe and effective for all garden and landscape plants.

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Proper use of non-composted manure as a fertilizer is important in preventing contamination of crops with harmful microbes.

Steven Ingham, UW-Madison Food Science
Revised: 1/5/2007
Item number: XHT1143

Many vegetable gardeners swear by the benefits of manure as a fertilizer. Adding manure to soil improves the soil’s texture and water-holding capacity while providing nutrients needed by growing plants. Unfortunately, fresh manure can also contain bacteria that can contaminate vegetables and cause human disease. Proper composting will kill these bacteria, but steps must be taken to ensure that the manure gets hot enough for a sufficient time during composting. Storing manure in a pile will cause some death of disease-causing bacteria, but is not regarded as a reliable way to destroy them. The risk of bacterial contamination from manure is serious enough that USDA National Organic Program (NOP) rules specifically address when non-composted manure can be applied to soil used for vegetable production. The NOP rules state that if vegetables have edible parts that might contact the soil (either directly or via rain/irrigation splash), then manure must be applied at least 120 days before harvest. For a crop like sweet corn, where the edible portion is not exposed to soil, the limit is 90 days before harvest. In Wisconsin, 120 days can cover most of the vegetable growing season, so growers may be tempted to apply fresh manure in the spring, even though harvest will be less than 120 days away.

Can a shorter manure application-to-harvest interval be safely used by Wisconsin vegetable growers? Probably not. Recent results from my own research indicate that applying fresh cow manure 90, 100, or 110 days prior to harvest may significantly increase the likelihood that Eschericia coli (i.e., E. coli) bacteria from manure will contaminate vegetables. My research also found that the interval between manure application and planting is even more important than the fertilization-to-harvest interval. This is because vegetables are most sensitive to bacterial contamination just after sprouting.

What are the safest options for Wisconsin vegetable growers? I recommend three possible ways to apply manure to vegetable-growing soils in Wisconsin. Growers should either 1) use properly composted or otherwise sterilized manure (from a commercial source or your yard) for application during the current growing season, 2) apply non-composted manure in the fall before crops are planted the next spring, or 3) apply non-composted manure as soon as possible in the spring and then only plant fall-season crops in the fertilized soil. For example, apply manure in April, plant radishes in August, and harvest radishes in September. If growers use option 3, great care should be taken to keep manure away from spring and summer-season crops. Avoid problems from runoff, and from tracking manure from one part of the field to another on boots or tools.

What about pet wastes? Pet wastes (as well as human wastes) should not be used to fertilize soil in which vegetables are grown.

Do the practices discussed above guarantee safety? Fresh produce is never risk-free. Even if proper fertilization procedures are followed, birds and other wildlife can still transfer bacteria to your crops. Washing produce will reduce the risk of contamination, but will not ensure safety. Thorough cooking of vegetables usually destroys disease-causing bacteria. If you use good manure-handling practices in your garden, the health benefits of a produce-rich diet are far greater than the risk of food-borne illness.

For more information on proper manure use and composting: Contact your county Extension agent.

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When To Apply Different Types Of Manure On Garden

Vegetable Manure

Vegetable manure is the most widely used type. It can be composited to yield plant growing properties. Marking a vegetable compost pile is the hard part and might take a year.

Once it is fully decomposed and exposed in the open to release the decomposing heat, it can be used both for a flower garden or potted plants.

Horse Manure

Horse manure decomposes naturally when put in a pile. The process takes approximately four months as long as the conditions are favorable. It might take longer if it contains wooden chips.

However, horse manure needs to mature before applying. It is ideal for your outdoor garden as well as indoor plants. This is because it contains a balanced nitrogen and carbon ratio.

Cow Manure

Cow manure is very popular for backyard gardens. However, it should be applied in spring. It has to be composted to give the best results. When using fresh cow manure, it should be done in the fall.

Dig at least 6 to 9 inches and ensure it is thoroughly mixed with the soil. It has to be done during the garden preparation period.

Chicken Manure

Chicken manure is highly refined and takes a year in the compost pile to mature. It can be used anytime the need arises for any flower gardens. During application, ensure it is spread evenly on the garden since it easily mixes well. If it has a smell, it means it is not ready to leave the compost pile.

Sheep Manure

Sheep manure is highly organic. It has low smell levels and ideal for indoor games, and is also suitable for outdoor gardens. It is used during planting, growing, or when adding more nutrients into the soil.

Sheep manure is the best for mulching purposes once plants have sprouted.

Generally, liquefied manure is recommended on flower gardens and indoor potted plants. This takes effect faster than the moist manure type. As a gardener, you will be able to know which type works for your plants.

With so many types of manure available on the farm or at home, there is no reason to let plants die due to the lack of this vital component.


Is Sheep Manure Good For Vegetable Gardens

Pig manure is a non-starter. Most bagged manures available at garden retailers are composted and sterilized so weed seeds shouldnt be an issue with them.

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Sheep manure is highly organic.

Is sheep manure good for vegetable gardens. Keep reading for best manures for vegetables. Manure is highly rich in organic matter and humus and therefore improves the soil fertility. It has a lot of nitrogen like the other manures but since it is deposited in a pelletized form it takes much less time to compost.

The three most commonly available manures for your garden are. Sheep manure can also be used in your garden. The droppings of cows sheep poultry and horses are the manure that is commonly used in the garden.

Age the manure in the compost heap so it loses that burnability. It wont burn plant roots because its low in nutrients. This makes it great as a general purpose soil conditioner.

Sheep manure has a high nitrogen content but lower ratio in the other macro-nutrients. The answer is an astounding yes. It is still a good idea to allow manure to mature before using it in the garden regardless of whether it is considered hot or cold.

Never use cat dog or pig manure in vegetable gardens or compost piles The amount of nitrogen in and manure depends on many factors including the type of animal it came from. After applying any manure of cover crop its advised to wait two weeks for it to begin to break down. It is perfectly safe for both vegetables and flower gardens alike and will have your plants blooming like never before.

People comment that it smells less than cow or chicken manure but it takes longer to dry out. It is used during planting growing or when adding more nutrients into the soil. Its generally considered to be one of the best amendments you can add to your garden.

Sheep manure due to its low nitrogen level is referred to as cold manure it is an excellent natural slow-release vegetable fertilizer. Manure is essentially animal poop. Corn potatoes garlic and lettuce would benefit from soil amended properly with well-aged or composted horse manure.

Sheep manure is the best for mulching purposes once plants have sprouted. Sheep manure is probably a better manure compared to horse manure because it contains potassium. These manures used as fertilizers are typically from herbivores ie.

Manure is rich in nitrogen organic matter and a variety of minerals adding nutrition and tilth to the soil and ensuring rich harvests of green and happy vegetables. Not all animal droppings can be used in the garden however such as the droppings of household pets like cats and dogs. However its pellet size makes it a quick waste to compost.

Both of these manures are affordable to purchase in large quantities. It has low smell levels and ideal for indoor games and is also suitable for outdoor gardens. Sheep will cause a wild growth at first like a kid whos a candy freak then slow down.

Sheep poo is richer in nutrients than cow or horse manure is drier so is easily to apply however can also contain weed seeds. And great for phosphorous-sensitive native plants when its well rotted. Fertilizers dont often contain manure but manure can be used as a fertilizer.

But sheep is very high in nutrients. Cow manure is a good all-rounder as is mushroom compost a type of green manure. Plant-eating animals such as cows sheep chickens etc.

At the moment Im a big fan of worm castings. We started our own worm farm at home just a couple of months ago feeding our 1000-odd new pets with all our fruit and veggie scraps. Horse manure takes.

This is a favourite of organic gardeners. This Manure Will Destroy Your Garden. However unlike some animals sheep have a greater ability to digest weed seeds and a weed-free garden is always my ultimate goal.

Any manure is good to condition soil. Cow manure which tends to have a low nutrient analysis because like sheep manure it comes from animals grazing on grass. If the manure comes from chooks bred for egg laying it will contain calcium and thats great for clay soils.

Cow and sheep manure are both considered cold manures. The livestock manure is rich in nitrogen phosphorus and also potassium. Animal manure has been used in vegetable gardens for centuries.

The same safety guidelines for poultry manure apply to other garden-worthy manures which may come from cows goats horses rabbits sheep or other grass eaters. This is better in the long run and does not cause any pollution and it is a valuable and renewable resource.

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Reasons to Use Manure vs. Why You Shouldn’t Fertilize with Manure

Overall, manure is an effective fertilizer and soil amendment when used properly. The cons of using manure fertilizer are generally outweighed by the positive aspects of the product. However, the drawbacks of manure fertilizer certainly do exist and steps need to be taken to avoid issues. These might include soil testing to determine the amount and type of manure, using low tillage methods by spreading manure the season prior to planting, and sourcing manure from organic farms where toxic chemicals are not used. With careful composting, manure can be of benefit to plants and soil.

Note: It is strongly recommended that cat, dog and pig manures never be used on edibles, especially raw, because of parasites and disease contaminates.



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