What Are the Dangers of Manure Piles?

One of the byproducts of raising livestock is manure. Whether you are a small stockperson with a few horses or a large ranch with a herd of dairy cows or coops full of chickens, you have to find some way of disposing of manure. Most people store the manure in piles until it can be hauled away or spread over fields. Composted manure makes a rich fertilizer, but piles of manure do present some hazards.


According to the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service, microbial activity in composting manure piles produces both heat and methane gas. This can lead to spontaneous combustion and fire. Manure piles that become wet and piles more than five to seven feet high pose a larger fire hazard.

Water Contamination

Runoff from rain water, flood waters or water leaks that flows through or over manure piles and contaminate streams and groundwater with dangerous levels of phosphates, and nitrates. According to North Dakota State University, this can lead to fish kills, overgrowth of algae and illness in any people who come in contact with the contaminated water.


Manure piles can become breeding grounds for insects, particularly flies. Flies plague people and animals alike. Flies can lead to diseases such as pinkeye in calves and both blood loss and weight loss in cattle, according to the University of Tennessee Extension Service. Flies can be a nuisance in the house and biting flies can inflict painful bites on humans and animals.

Keywords: manure piles, composted manure, dangers of manure

About this Author

Cynthia James is the author of more than 40 novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from Modern Bride to Popular Mechanics. A graduate of Sam Houston State University, she has a degree in economics. Before turning to freelancing full time, James worked as a newspaper reporter, travel agent and medical clinic manager.