How to Use Fresh Manure As a Compost Material


Manage growing piles of livestock and horse manure by composting. Fertilize the garden with the material or add it to other compost piles composed of leaves, grass clippings and produce scraps. Regularly turn the compost pile to provide adequate oxygen for decomposition, and keep the compost pile moist, not wet. A dry pile won't get hot enough for decomposition to take place; whereas, an overly wet pile will compact the compost and give off an odor.

Step 1

Locate a flat area with good drainage for the manure compost pile. Choose an area close to your livestock for convenience, and away from buildings.

Step 2

Drill holes in the pipes, a half-inch in diameter and spaced at 6-inch intervals.

Step 3

Shovel the manure onto the compost site. Aim for a 5- to 7-foot square that rises in the center of the pile to 3 to 4 feet high.

Step 4

Turn the manure pile with a shovel or tractor at least once a week in the beginning, and then after the pile begins decomposing, at least once a month.

Step 5

Insert the pipes into the pile of manure so they each stand vertically. Evenly space the pipes. The pipes help ventilate the manure, and help if you are unable to turn the pile.

Step 6

Sprinkle the pile with water from a garden hose as needed. Do not soak the pile. The mixture, from the center of the pile, should feel like a damp, wrung-out sponge.

Step 7

Cover the pile during wet seasons, using a plastic tarp.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't use pig, dog or cat manure in the garden because it carries disease.

Things You'll Need

  • 3 5-foot PVC pipes
  • Drill
  • 1/2-inch drill bit
  • Shovel or tractor
  • Garden hose
  • Tarp


  • Washington State University Whatcom County Extension
  • Oregon State University Extension
  • Wisconsin State University

Who Can Help

  • Composting Livestock Manure
Keywords: composting manure, manure compost, compost pile

About this Author

Ann Johnson was the editor of a community magazine in Southern California for more than 10 years and was an active real estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelors of Art degree in communications from California State University of Fullerton. Today she is a freelance writer and photographer, and part owner of an Arizona real estate company.