How Do You Compost With Donkey Manure?

How to compost donkey manure? Composting with donkey manure is essentially the same as composting with horse manure. Both have a lower nitrogen level than many other types of manure. Both contain a great deal of organic matter and plentiful nutrients.

Like horse manure, if your donkey manure has a lot of bedding or wood shavings mixed in, it can interfere with the mobilization of nitrogen during decomposition.

Additionally, you should be aware that any manure can contain pathogen such as E. coli. This is why it’s very important to compost donkey manure thoroughly and be sure that you attain the right temperature to kill off pathogens.

It is possible to simply add donkey or horse manure directly to your garden soil as an amendment, but if you do so you should wait a couple of months before planting a food crop. This will allow time for pathogens to die off and for nitrogen to mobilize.

All in all, the best way to compost with donkey manure is to set up a system that allows you to keep several batches of compost (either all manure or combination manure, kitchen scraps and yard trimmings) under production at all times.

How Do You Set Up A Compost System?

how do you set up a compost system

Depending on the amount of manure you have and the space you have, the steps you take to compost will vary somewhat. Generally speaking, you can follow these nine processes.

1. Begin by selecting a good location

You want to be certain that you have easy access to your compost bins or piles all year round, no matter what the weather.

Choose a level site with good drainage that is not near a well or waterway. You want to take care that the runoff from your compost site or bin does not contaminate groundwater or surface water.

Your chosen site should have plenty of space. You will ideally have three separate composting bins or piles. Each should be about three cubic feet in size. The colder your climate, the larger your composting piles or bins must be in order to generate enough heat for efficient composting.

2. Compost heap or compost bin?

Decide whether you want to make a compost heap or use a compost bin. Generally speaking, bins are tidier and less likely to draw complaints from your neighbors.

A bin does not strictly have to be a container. If you need to have a large compost area, you can create bins using bales of straw, pallets or cinder bricks to build the sides.

Of course, you could also just buy pre-made compost bins. Alternately, you can make your own compost bins using large garbage cans with holes drilled in the sides and bottom to allow for aeration and drainage.

Keep in mind that you will need at least two piles or bins. Three is better.

  • In the first pile or bin, you’ll gather your composting materials (barn waste, manure, kitchen scraps, yard and garden clippings, etc.) every day.

Note that if you are using a combination of organic matter and layering “green and brown” materials, manure is considered a green material.

  • In the second pile bin, the composting process begins. You will turn the contents of this bin daily and monitor the temperature to make certain that it stays hot enough to kill off pathogens and promote efficient decomposition.
  • In the third bin the compost you have gathered and begun composting will cure.
    It’s important to understand that you will not be shuffling contents from one bin to another to accomplish your composting project. Instead, when you have completely finished and cured the contents of bin #3, you will empty the bin and it will become bin #1.

At this point, your former bin #1 will become bin #2, and your former bin #2 will become bin #3. You will constantly rotate the functions of your three bins or piles.

Here is an example of the three bin method:

3. Keep your composting area covered

Once you’ve established your composting area, you’ll need to have a way to keep it covered. You can cover the individual bins with plastic sheeting or tarps. If you are using commercially made composting bins or if you have made bins using garbage cans, of course you can simply use the lids.

Keeping your compost covered helps retain nutrients in the compost. Additionally, it keeps your composting materials at a uniformly moist consistency. Without good cover, your composting manure can become yucky slush when it rains and dry dust during the summer time.

4. Remember that you need to aerate composting materials

The beneficial bacteria and fungi that work to decompose organic matter must have air. If you have a large pile of composting manure, you may need machinery such as a tractor to turn the pile and let in air.

For smaller piles or bins, you can turn your composting materials by hand using a pitchfork or garden fork.

You may also wish to incorporate worms into your composting materials. Worms make excellent helpers in the composting process by tunneling through the organic matter, making airways and adding high nutrient worm castings to your finished product.

If you are using a compost pile or heap, and it has direct contact with the earth, earthworms will move up into the pile and help perform this function.

Earthworms cannot live in an enclosed compost bin that does not come in contact with the earth. You’ll need to purchase composting worms (i.e. red wigglers) to help you with this task.

5. Remember to keep your composting materials consistently moist

When you pick up a handful of your compost, you should be able to squeeze it in your fist with just a couple of drops of liquid falling out. It should be this consistency throughout the pile.

You can keep your compost moist by hosing it down every day or two. Remember to keep it covered so you don’t lose moisture or take on excess moisture.

6. Be sure that your compost reaches a safe, hot temperature

Compost needs to be between about 110°F to 160°F in order to kill off pathogens and parasites. The ideal temperature is about 130°F. This temperature must be maintained for a minimum of three days straight to eradicate pathogens and parasites.

You’ll need to have a specially made compost thermometer with a long stem to be able to take your compost heap’s temperature deep within the pile. Remember that high temperatures mean that your beneficial microbes are hard at work decomposing your donkey manure.

If you notice the temperature dropping, you must mix and turn the compost. You may also want to incorporate some green matter, such as grass clippings. This should generate high temperatures once again.

After you’ve turned the compost several times, if the temperature stays low, it is an indication that your compost is now curing.

7. Wait out the curing or stabilizing phase

Remember that your curing compost is now your bin #3. You won’t add any more organic matter to it.

This is the point at which small insects and your composting worms will really go to work. Be sure to keep your compost covered during this time so that weed seeds don’t establish themselves and grow in your valuable “black gold”.

It can take as long as a year for compost to be thoroughly cured. The longer it cures, the more stable it will be when you put it out on your garden. This means that it will hold onto its nutrients rather than having them easily leached out when it rains.

Here is a faster alternate method:

How To Compost Manure In Thirty Days

8. Recognize the finished product

When you see that your compost looks like good, rich dirt with a crumbly, even texture, you know it’s ready to use!

The amount of time it takes for your compost to go through all of its phases and become a finished product that is ready to use will vary depending upon how often you turn it, how consistently you keep it moist and the ambient temperature. Compost cures more quickly during warm weather than during cold weather.

9. Amend your soil with your homemade donkey manure compost

You can spread your compost over your lawn, pasture or garden using a manure spreader or simply using a shovel. A thin, even layer about a quarter to a half inch deep will work wonders. Don’t add more than four inches of compost to one area within a single growing season.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Homemade Compost?

When you compost your donkey manure, horse manure or other livestock manure, you’re making good use of a valuable resource. Natural, finished compost is an excellent soil amendment that is filled with macro and micronutrients that feed your plants in a natural, slow release fashion.

Whereas chemical fertilizers and amendments give plants a quick and unnatural boost that does not actually add to their health, all-natural compost builds up your plants’ disease resistance.

If you’re using compost on your vegetable garden, the vegetables you harvest will be more nourishing and better for you.

All-natural compost helps the soil in your lawn, pasture or garden retain moisture throughout the hot summer months. It provides support for beneficial fauna in the soil.

Unlike chemical fertilizers, all natural compost does not pose a threat to the quality of water in the water table, groundwater and waterways.

When you keep your livestock manure at home and put it to good use as compost, you are keeping it out of the landfill and turning what could be a liability into a definite asset.

Home Composting With Donkey Manure

Nicky Ellis
Nicky has been an editor at Farm & Animals since 2019. Farm animals have been in her life from her earliest memories, and she learned to ride a horse when she was 5. She is a mom of three who spends all her free time with her family and friends, her mare Joy, or just sipping her favorite cup of tea.

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