Composting is all about striking a balance between the various elements that go into it--the bulking agents, the energy materials and the raw materials. If done properly, you can greatly speed up the process of decay while keeping unpleasant odors to a minimum. By following a few easy steps, you can use cattle manure to really give your garden compost a boost.
Load your bulking agents into the compost bin first. Bulking agents are materials such as sawdust, hay, straw, wood chips and corn stalks, which will serve to draw moisture off of the organic energy materials you will be adding. A good rule of thumb is to use roughly twice the amount of bulking agents as energy materials.
Prepare your cattle manure. Do not simply load fresh manure straight into the compost bin, as it will still be full of bacteria and parasites that could prove harmful to the garden. Instead, gather the cattle manure and let it dry out for 60 days. This will ensure that any bacteria and parasites have perished and that the manure is safe to compost.
Load your energy materials into the compost bin. Energy materials can include coffee grounds, garden refuse, vegetable scraps and, most importantly, dried cattle manure. These materials are generally high in moisture, but the bulking materials you laid down previously will begin drawing off the moisture and keep the smell to a minimum.
Load raw materials into the compost bin. Raw materials can include yard clippings and tree refuse. Cut all such materials into small pieces, no larger than 1/2 inch long. This will make for easier mixing and hasten the composting process.
Place any new materials into the center of the compost pile when adding them. Use a pitchfork to clear a space in the center of the bin and place the new materials there. Once added, use the pitchfork to pull the surrounding compost over the freshly added material. This will ensure a quick and steady composting process.
Turn your compost once a week. The microbes that power the composting process need oxygen in order to perform their tasks properly. Turning the pile ensures that all areas gett the proper amount of oxygen.