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I like to keep an eye on craigslist postings for free manure in our area (or if not free, at least really cheap).

What questions should I ask and what should I look for? Any tips on how to tell the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff? (if there even is a difference)

Thanks!

Tags: manure

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You want aged manure, it shouldn't stink.
You should make sure that the manure has been composted. Fresh manure is never a good idea! If it has not been composted it will usually smell and is likely to burn your plant material. Good composted manure should be a rich, dark color and smell "sweet" (earthy). If you do pick up straight manure you could mix it with a humus rich soil and begin composting/aging it yourself. Our composted horse manure usually takes 1-2 years.
thanks to you both! this helps greatly.
Hey Hashbrown,

I second the comments already made. Another thing you'll want to look for is the amount/type of bedding that is mixed in with the manure. I'm speaking mostly of horse manure...some stables use cedar as bedding. You don't want cedar in your manure...or any wood shaving for that matter. Some shavings are ok, but if you can actually see the shavings and they make up a good percentage of the manure don't take it. As the shavings break down they will rob your plants of the nitrogen that they need. Your plants will achieve much less than their full potential. Take the time to find good stuff. It will pay off spending the time to get good quality, fully composted manure.

My favorite manure to use is llama/alpaca manure. It breaks down very quickly and you can put it right into your garden beds and it won't "burn" your plants.

I don't really use chicken or cow manure. So, I'm not as knowledgeable about those. I do know that chicken manure is really hot and must be really well composted before using.

Best,
Dan
POP Farmer
Portland, OR
I am confused on the alpaca manure. Can you put it directly in your garden, or do you need to compost it first..and for how long. We currently do not compost, so I am wondering what a good alternative is for the alpaca manure?

Dan said:
Hey Hashbrown,

I second the comments already made. Another thing you'll want to look for is the amount/type of bedding that is mixed in with the manure. I'm speaking mostly of horse manure...some stables use cedar as bedding. You don't want cedar in your manure...or any wood shaving for that matter. Some shavings are ok, but if you can actually see the shavings and they make up a good percentage of the manure don't take it. As the shavings break down they will rob your plants of the nitrogen that they need. Your plants will achieve much less than their full potential. Take the time to find good stuff. It will pay off spending the time to get good quality, fully composted manure.

My favorite manure to use is llama/alpaca manure. It breaks down very quickly and you can put it right into your garden beds and it won't "burn" your plants.

I don't really use chicken or cow manure. So, I'm not as knowledgeable about those. I do know that chicken manure is really hot and must be really well composted before using.

Best,
Dan
POP Farmer
Portland, OR
KCam said:
I am confused on the alpaca manure. Can you put it directly in your garden, or do you need to compost it first..and for how long. We currently do not compost, so I am wondering what a good alternative is for the alpaca manure?

Dan said:
Hey Hashbrown,

I second the comments already made. Another thing you'll want to look for is the amount/type of bedding that is mixed in with the manure. I'm speaking mostly of horse manure...some stables use cedar as bedding. You don't want cedar in your manure...or any wood shaving for that matter. Some shavings are ok, but if you can actually see the shavings and they make up a good percentage of the manure don't take it. As the shavings break down they will rob your plants of the nitrogen that they need. Your plants will achieve much less than their full potential. Take the time to find good stuff. It will pay off spending the time to get good quality, fully composted manure.

My favorite manure to use is llama/alpaca manure. It breaks down very quickly and you can put it right into your garden beds and it won't "burn" your plants.

I don't really use chicken or cow manure. So, I'm not as knowledgeable about those. I do know that chicken manure is really hot and must be really well composted before using.

Best,
Dan
POP Farmer
Portland, OR
Hey, KCam...

I have a mid-sized alpaca farm and know that you can put the alpaca manure pretty much immediately on your plants. It is very low in nitrogen and will not burn your plants. It does not have odor....if it does, then it's mixed in with a high amount of urine, or perhaps if the animals are sick it would be from diarrhea which we don't get here. Our alpaca beans are typically mixed in with hay and sometimes a little straw.

We also use a crushed ceramic tile in the paddocks for drainage and ground cover for the alpacas that is not dusty (which is better for their fleeces), so anyone who gets anything out of our compost pile (and again, this stuff "composts" very quickly) will find some of that colorful, tiny crushed ceramic tile in there, too. I guess depending on where one is putting the mix, that may or may not be helpful. We have found it to be very helpful when put in gardens and on areas of the property that were too boggy, as it has provided excellent composition for drainage and helps to counter-act the high clay content to the soil here in western NY.

Not knowing where you are, I can't really recommend or refer you to a specific farm or farms that will have the alpaca manure, but probably googling for your area will get you the answers you need for locating it! It's great stuff! Pro greenhouses buy, bag and sell it for premium prices, as well....

KCam said:
I am confused on the alpaca manure. Can you put it directly in your garden, or do you need to compost it first..and for how long. We currently do not compost, so I am wondering what a good alternative is for the alpaca manure?

Dan said:
Hey Hashbrown,

I second the comments already made. Another thing you'll want to look for is the amount/type of bedding that is mixed in with the manure. I'm speaking mostly of horse manure...some stables use cedar as bedding. You don't want cedar in your manure...or any wood shaving for that matter. Some shavings are ok, but if you can actually see the shavings and they make up a good percentage of the manure don't take it. As the shavings break down they will rob your plants of the nitrogen that they need. Your plants will achieve much less than their full potential. Take the time to find good stuff. It will pay off spending the time to get good quality, fully composted manure.

My favorite manure to use is llama/alpaca manure. It breaks down very quickly and you can put it right into your garden beds and it won't "burn" your plants.

I don't really use chicken or cow manure. So, I'm not as knowledgeable about those. I do know that chicken manure is really hot and must be really well composted before using.

Best,
Dan
POP Farmer
Portland, OR
Rabbit, chicken and horse manure should be used with extreme caution and sparingly if used immediately which I would not reccommend. The nitrogen content is too high with the aforementioned order being from highest to lowest. Compost it first or simply pile it up and wait a year.

Alpaca and cow manure can be used immediately and can be piled on pretty heavy but should be thoroughly mixed with soil.

Sheep manure (which I have never used) is supposedly hot. Manure from pigs stinks a bit to much for me to bother with and is typically messy and also hot.

Chicken manure is great when mixed with leaves to compost. The interior of my compost pile was over 200 degrees in the dead of winter in Pa. I have had litterally tons of very good compost that simply cost some time and energy.

Free manure is great but I prefer to clean up the alpaca manure in my neighbors pasture to help her out while getting something in return. Alpaca tend to use the same spots and should be cleaned up frequently.
Hey Hashbrown,

If you live near a local zoo, you may want to check with them to see if they offer composted manure for gardeners. I just picked up a truckload of free "Zoo Doo" at our zoo, and the stuff looks great. We told kids in our neighborhood that we had elephant poo in our garden and they couldn't stop laughing.

Good luck!
-Lelo
Lelo in Nopo
that is a fantastic idea!

Lelo in Nopo said:
Hey Hashbrown,

If you live near a local zoo, you may want to check with them to see if they offer composted manure for gardeners. I just picked up a truckload of free "Zoo Doo" at our zoo, and the stuff looks great. We told kids in our neighborhood that we had elephant poo in our garden and they couldn't stop laughing.

Good luck!
-Lelo
Lelo in Nopo
hi michael - just got to pdx trying to jumpstart a midsummer garden. did a search on google and cl for alpaca manure but couldn't find anything. any tips? insider trading secrets?

drake

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