Liquid Cow Manure Problems

Liquid cow manure is a fertilizer for giving your plants, bushes and lawn extra nitrogen. You can purchase commercially manufactured liquid cow manure that will have been homogenized and had the smell removed. Or, as many gardeners do, make your own. Liquid cow manure should be applied, either by spraying or applying it directly to the soil, every two to three weeks during the growing season.

Health Concerns

Making your own liquid cow manure fertilizer is cost effective and will last a long time. But if you are using it on plants that produce edible fruit, vegetables or leaves, the manure may pose a health threat. It is important that you use only very aged cow manure for your manure tea. Aged manure, in most cases, has lost most of the bacteria in it that creates illnesses like e-coli. Additionally, make sure your "tea" is in a spot that allows it to heat as it steeps. The heat will kill any e-coli bacteria the same as if you had manure in your compost pile and repeatedly turned the compost to distribute the heat and kill bacteria. There is another problem with homemade liquid cow manure that can be eliminated if you are selective about where you acquire your manure. Cattle that have been fed antibiotics will pass those antibiotics through their manure. Manure that is used from these cows for your liquid cow manure fertilizer will also have the antibiotics, and the plants, fruit, and vegetables you use the fertilizer on will have the antibiotics. Dairies and commercial feedlots are more likely to use antibiotics on there cattle, where small ranchers and range cattle will not have been given antibiotics. Ask about medications, vaccinations and any other products that might have been recently administered to the livestock before gathering your manure.


Both commercially manufactured and homemade liquid cow manure fertilizer will be concentrated and must be diluted before applying it on your plants. For commercial products, follow the directions on the label. Homemade manure tea should be diluted in the ratio of four parts water to one part liquid cow manure. Using the liquid cow manure full strength will harm your plants. Also, too frequent of applications will have your plants growing more foliage than fruit or vegetables. Liquid cow manure is mostly nitrogen, without potassium and phosphorus that a balanced fertilizer would have. Feeding your plants too much nitrogen without the addition of potassium and phosphorus to balance and feed, will only promote green growth. This is why liquid cow manure is often highly recommended as lawn fertilizer.


Commercially processed liquid cow manure should not have an offensive odor. Unfortunately, homemade manure tea can have an unpleasant odor. Although you cannot remove the odor manure tea emits, you can decrease its intrusion into your environment by using a bucket that has a tight fitting lid. This is beneficial for several other reasons. By enclosing the bucket your manure is steeping in, the mixture should heat more, decreasing the harmful bacteria that may exist. Additionally, keeping a tight lid on the mixture will eliminate any mosquito problems that sometimes develop in open containers.

Commercial vs Homemade

As convenient as is commercial liquid cow manure fertilize, it is lacking in additional nutrients that your homemade manure tea will have. These extra nutrients benefit your plants by the addition of trance minerals and microbes. These are the microorganisms promote earthworm activity, fight disease causing fungi and bacteria in your soil, and will help keep your plants healthy.

Keywords: manure tea problems, liquid manure disadvantages, manure tea

About this Author

At home in rural California, Kate Carpenter has been writing articles and web content for several well known marketeers since 2007. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Kansas and A Master of Education equivalent from the University of Northern Colorado, Carpenter brings a wealth of diverse experience to her writing.