Equine Waste Management

December 19, 2016   

One of the toughest challenges in managing a stable is controlling waste on the property. There are many methods to storing and removing waste, some of which suit small scale operations best, while others are designed for more commercial facilities with many acres and barns. Finding the right waste management program is vital to ensuring horses’ health and well being.

About waste

Waste at any equestrian facility goes beyond the stall walls. Additional locations where waste needs to be controlled include paddocks, isles and arenas. When deciding how to go about managing waste, be sure to include the need to clean additional locations such as these.

Smell is not the only reason to be sure the barn has its waste under control. Horses can suffer physically if exposed to excessive waste. Standing in wet bedding or manure can soften horses’ feet, making them more susceptible to ailments, such as thrush. Waste that is not properly controlled can also contaminate food and water, leading to a higher risk of contracting intestinal worms. This also raises the likelihood of mold presence, exposing horses to the possibility of consuming unsafe food and water. Excessive waste can also result in more flies and bugs present within the facilities and in the surrounding areas.

What to do with it

Removing waste can be tricky for some facilities. However, there are multiple ways for any size facility to manage it. For most, selling it for fertilizer is one of the best options. Some composting companies will be willing to purchase manure to repurpose it for use as fertilizer. Another option is utilizing the waste at the facility itself. This is especially practical if the facility is on a large amount of land. Rather than paying for fertilizer for crop or hay fields, utilize what is already available on the property. This can eliminate or greatly reduce the need for purchasing manure, helping to keep operating costs low.

Be sure to have a solid plan for waste removal before bringing horses on the property. Trying to figure out what to do with waste with horses on the property can prove difficult. Be sure to develop a waste management plan well in advance. Take into consideration the fact that simply finding an appropriate dumping site may take time. Plan how the manure will be moved to this location and consider any size limitations with the storage space that may factor in.


Most commercial facilities utilize a waste pile rather than removable storage bins. In order to keep waste from spreading and contaminating food and water supplies, a specific location for the waste needs to be assigned. To keep the waste contained, consider a structure, such as a fabric building, to keep the waste dry and secluded. If waste is stored near any sort of watershed or if the storage space is small, putting up walls can ensure that the waste does not contaminate food or water supplies.

In situations where the manure is being used for fertilizer, keeping it covered helps preserve the nutrients that rain, snow and sun can extinguish.

Methods of transfer

Once an off-site location is set and a regular dumping location is acquired, purchasing a dump truck may prove more cost efficient than regularly contracting a trucking service. Removable bins can be useful as well; having several on hand can help bring down the frequency of removal needed. These can range in size depending on how large the facility is. Some use dumpster sized manure containers that can be transported in and out when need be, while smaller scale facilities often use heavy-duty trash bins. Keep in mind these can wear down and rust over time. Another option is using a dump truck as a direct means of removal. By setting up planks and having wheelbarrows dump directly into the truck, a manure pile is not necessary.

The waste management quick facts

-Plan a dumping location and removal process before horses are on the property.

-Consider putting the waste to use with on-site storage if possible.

-Utilize wheelbarrows, wheeled carts or covered trash bins to move the waste to and from your main dumping location.

-Keep muck buckets accessible in arenas and isles for larger facilities. Be sure they are regularly used and emptied.

-Pitchforks can be used for shifting to save shavings and other types of bedding, rather than shovels. This can save money on shavings, as well as take up less space in your manure pile.