How Much Manure Does A Cow Produce?

If you are new to livestock keeping, gardening and/or homesteading, you may feel a little daunted by the amount of manure your cows and other livestock produce. Disposing of it may seem problematic, but actually manure is a valuable asset to your farming venture, and mastering the art of composting is key to keeping the soil in your gardens and pastures light, healthy and well-nourished.

In this article, we discuss cows manure and provide sound information to help you make good use of that manure. Read on to learn more on how much manure does a cow produce.

Is Cow Manure The Best Manure For Gardening?

is cow manure the best manure for gardening

Cow manure is definitely one of the most popular choices for creating garden compost.

Even though it contains less nitrogen and more ammonia than some other sorts of manure (e.g. rabbit, sheep or goat manure) it is usually available in abundance and needs to be dealt with on a regular basis.

When properly composted, cow manure becomes a superb choice as a garden soil amendment.

How Much Manure Will A Single Cow Produce?

The amount of manure your cow produces naturally depends upon her size. Generally speaking, a 1000 pound cow will produce about 82 pounds of manure daily.

Most cows are bigger than this. For example, a typical Holstein weighs about 1400 pounds, so she would produce about 115 pounds of manure daily.

This adds up to about 21 tons of manure annually. Clearly, you will need a plan in place to deal with this!

Composting Makes The Most Of The Nutrients In Cow Manure

The quality of feed your cow receives determines the contents of her manure, so it’s important to feed your cow well. Good nutrition means better meat and milk and better manure.

Cow manure from a healthy, well-fed cow (check our advice on what to do if they stop eating) contains a wealth of potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen, along with micronutrients, such as boron and sulfur. Properly composted cow manure typically has an NPK rating of 3-2-1.

In addition to nourishment, cow manure also contains lots of ammonia and some dangerous pathogens, such as E. coli. That’s why proper composting is so important.

As cow manure decomposes, the ammonia levels are reduced. The heat of composting kills off dangerous pathogens, along with any weed seeds your cow may have ingested.

Additionally, decomposition leads to a reduction in volume, so the amount of manure you’ll need to spread around or incorporate into the soil will be much less by the time it’s ready for use.

How Does Cow Manure Compost Help The Soil?

With the passage of time and foot traffic, soil becomes compacted. Adding well composted cow manure into your soil lightens it and allows good aeration and even distribution of water. This leads to healthier, stronger roots and plants of all sorts.

Amending the soil in your gardens and fields with cow manure helps the soil to retain moisture. This means that you can make better use of precious water.

Naturally, cow manure compost provides lots of good nutrition to your garden plants and pasture grass. It also provides strong colonization of beneficial bacteria.

These microscopic lawn and garden helpers convert the nutrients in the compost into a form that is easy for your plants to take up without burning the roots.

How Do You Compost Cow Manure?

Begin by choosing a location to set up your compost bins or compost heaps. A location near your garden or the pasture you wish to fertilize is sensible.

Be sure not to make your bins too big to handle or your heaps too large to turn. Good aeration is essential to good composting.

On the other hand, you must be sure to amass enough composting material in one place to generate heat. The heat generated from decomposition is what kills off bad germs and weed seeds.

Because cow manure is wet and heavy, you’ll need to be able to incorporate lighter ingredients (e.g. hay, straw or leaves) into the manure on a regular basis.

You should also add green materials, such as veggie scraps from your kitchen and garden debris. Add these in layers, and turn or mix them from time-to-time.

Composting Manure

Natural Cow Manure Compost Is Environmentally Friendly

Properly composting your cow manure also helps planet earth, overall. When manure is correctly processed through good composting practices, it releases less methane into the atmosphere than if it‘s left to decompose wherever it falls.

Good composting practices reduce greenhouse gases by a third. Adding a bit of kelp to your cow’s feed will also helps reduce methane emissions.

Properly composted cow manure is also far more water-friendly than chemical fertilizers. Organic compost breaks down slowly in the soil and is consumed by the plants it is intended to feed.

A great deal of chemical fertilizers end up washed into gutters and carried into streams, rivers and the ocean. Natural cow manure compost stays put, feeds your plants and improves the condition of your soil in and ongoing way.

If you have a large herd of cattle, you can even make good use of cow manure as a source of biogas and heat!

Cow Manure As a Valuable Resource

Good Manure Management Is Thrifty And Wise

When you have livestock, manure happens, and you have to establish an effective way of dealing with it.

Luckily, composting cow manure is a great way to get the most value from the feed you provide while giving your gardens and fields all the nutrition necessary to for vibrant, productive growth.

Even though you may feel a bit overwhelmed when you first contemplate how much manure a cow can produce in a day, it’s easy to see that good manure planning and management results in a win-win situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

how much manure does a cow produce Frequently Asked Questions
1. What nutrients does cow manure provide for plants?

Nutrient levels and types vary depending upon the cow’s diet, but generally speaking, aged cow manure supplies nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) just as any good fertilizer would. The NPK balance is determined in great part by the amount of time the manure is aged. It also delivers various trace nutrients.

2. How does aging affect cow manure compost’s nutrient levels?

Composting cow manure along with other organic materials breaks down the organic matter and makes the nutrients contained therein more available to plants. Additionally, it is safer to use completely aged manure compost. When the decomposition of the organic materials is complete, they cease to generate heat, which can literally burn your plants’ roots.

3. Why is it necessary for cow manure compost to get hot?

The heat generated by decomposition kills off weed seeds that the cow may have eaten. Heat also kills off some parasites and some potentially dangerous types of bacteria, such as Listeria, Salmonella or E.coli.

4. What safety precautions should you take when managing your compost pile or bin?

Always wear gloves when you are handling cow manure in the process of decomposition. Be sure to wash up immediately after handling and managing your compost.

5. Is it ever safe to work fresh cow manure into the soil?

At the end of the growing season, when you prepare your garden for winter, you can till in some fresh cow manure. It will decompose in the ground during the winter. Till again in the springtime to lighten the soil and distribute the composted manure evenly.


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  2. Dairy Manure Production and Nutrient Content

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