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goat manure weed seeds

How to Compost Goat Manure

Farmers and ranchers have known for centuries that adding nutrient-rich animal manure to their fields and pastures enriches the soil and increases the crop harvest. Composting goat manure gives homesteaders, small farmers and backyard gardeners an inexpensive, simple way to create a rich soil amendment for their gardens and flowerbeds. According to Elizabeth Stell, author of “Secrets to Great Soil,” goat manure possesses more organic matter–but fewer weed seeds–than most other types of animal manure, which makes it an attractive compost choice for many gardeners. Spread goat manure directly on your garden soil approximately six months before planting time, ideally during the early fall.

Gather fresh goat manure in a heap by the side of your garden or flowerbeds. Expect the easy-to-handle manure pellets to be well mixed with urine-damp bedding material, such as straw or sawdust, which generally provides plenty of carbon for your compost.

Visually check the heap of fresh goat manure as you gather it to ensure that approximately 50 percent of the pile’s volume consists of the manure, which provides nitrogen for the compost. Add supplemental nitrogen-rich waste (such as fresh grass clippings, fruit scraps and vegetable waste) and carbon-rich waste (such as dead leaves, straw or shredded newspaper) to your heap of fresh goat manure, if necessary, to achieve the correct balance of carbon and nitrogen materials.

  • Farmers and ranchers have known for centuries that adding nutrient-rich animal manure to their fields and pastures enriches the soil and increases the crop harvest.
  • Expect the easy-to-handle manure pellets to be well mixed with urine-damp bedding material, such as straw or sawdust, which generally provides plenty of carbon for your compost.

Mix the goat manure and any other nitrogen-dense materials thoroughly with the carbon-rich waste using a manure fork. Scoop the mixed waste over your garden soil, spreading it out to create a 2- to 4-inch-thick layer across the top of the soil.

Leave the goat manure and other organic waste materials to compost on the top of the garden soil for approximately six months. Till the broken-down matter into the top 5 to 6 inches of garden soil using a hoe, shovel or roto-tiller, depending upon what tools you have available and the size of your garden beds.

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According to Stell, goat manure contains approximately 1.1 percent nitrogen, 0.4 percent phosphorus and 1 percent potassium. These nutrient levels exceed those of horse and cow manure but are less than the nutrient levels present in chicken manure.

If you’re limited on space but would like a readily available source of goat manure, consider raising pygmy or dwarf goats, which generally don’t exceed 2 feet tall. Although most cities consider full-size goats to be livestock, check with your city office to see if your local ordinances allow these small-size goats to be raised as pets.

Avoid adding fresh animal manure to soil that contains growing plants, as the high nitrogen and ammonia levels in the manure may burn the plant roots.

Goat manure weed seeds

Phase one of our homegrown fertility campaign is the garden/kitchen/chicken compost pile . But that isn’t nearly enough to make it through the year. Enter phase two: the goat compost pile.

The photo above shows the problem with goat manure. Our dainty eaters drop nearly as much hay onto the floor as they eat, and that spoiled hay is full of seeds. If those seeds sprout on the compost pile, it’s not a bit deal. But nobody wants a lawn in their garden.

Now, this isn’t really as big a deal as I assumed it was at this time last year. After putting uncomposted goat manure on the garden all summer, I realized that it really wasn’t any weedier than the composted horse manure we’d been using to date. But I’ve still decided to earmark the goat manure for large-seeded crops like squash and corn that can easily be protected from weeds using newspaper and straw kill mulches between plants.

And, in the meantime, I’m building my goat compost mountain to see how many of those weed seeds I can bake into submission before they ever reach the garden. To that end, I cleaned out the goat barn and also used two older piles to make the pile shown above. (It looks bigger than it is since the land slopes toward the camera and the pile is supported on the back by a fence.) In case you’re curious, that’s about three months’ worth of manure from two goats.

While turning the older compost to incorporate it with the new, I discovered quite a few dry patches like the one shown to the left in the photo above. I’d assumed I needed to cover up the piles after about an inch of rain fell on them to prevent leaching of nutrients, but it seems like I should have allowed for at least twice that much rainfall pre-covering. Now that the manure is in an even bigger pile, I probably should leave it out for a solid month then take a look inside and see how well it’s hydrating before pulling out the tarps.

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In case anyone’s curious, this pile, unlike the other, doesn’t get human pee. I figure the C:N ratio of urine-soaked bedding with lots of goat berries is close to perfect for compost critters. If you want to read far more about various types of manures and other compostables, I recommend my Ultimate Guide to Soil . Enjoy!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They’ve experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Is Goat Manure Good for Fertilizer?

A few years ago, the only kinds of manure readily available were cow and horse manure – but not anymore. Keeping goats is a hot trend in urban farming. You might have a neighbor with goats or even keep goats yourself. Along with a steady supply of creamy milk for cheese comes a steady supply of fertilizer for your garden. Goat manure is one of the best animal manures for healthy soil and plants.

Goat manure makes for a great fertilizer in home gardens, as it contains nitrogen and potassium, both of which plants need to grow healthy and strong.

Benefits of Manure for Gardens

Goat manure, like sheep manure, is drier than cow manure or horse manure. It has less odor and is easier to work with and spread. It also composts more quickly. The National Gardening Association notes that goat manure is higher in nitrogen and potassium than horse and cow manures – on average, it has 22 pounds of nitrogen in 1 ton. Cow manure has only 10 pounds of nitrogen in 1 ton, according to PennState Extension.

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Potential Drawbacks of Goat Manure

Because goats eat grass and hay, their manure might contain weed seeds. This is true of most grazing animals, including sheep and horses. Composting the manure destroys most of these seeds, but a few remain viable – ready to emerge in your garden. To reduce this problem, always use well-composted goat manure. Spread mulches over the soil to thwart weeds and pull any weeds that appear quickly, before they go to seed.

Goat Manure Uses

Goat manure makes an excellent soil conditioner for new gardens, as well as established gardens. It improves the soil texture so it uses water more efficiently and allows more oxygen to reach the plants’ roots. Goat manure, like all manures, offers a low-cost, natural source of nitrogen and other nutrients.

Because manure contains small amounts of other nutrients, you will probably have to supplement it with other fertilizers, depending on your soil fertility. Spread 40 pounds of goat manure on a new garden and till to a depth of 8 inches. Spread 1 to 2 inches of manure annually on established beds and till under.

Organic Fertilizer Cautions

Fresh animal manure, including goat manure, can contain pathogens that can make people sick. Always use well-composted goat manure, especially if you’re using the manure on edible crops. If you opt to use goat manure that is rotted but not composted, apply it at least 120 days before harvesting crops that grow close to the ground, such as lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. capitata) or root vegetables.

Apply it at least 90 days in advance for crops that don’t touch the soil, such as corn (Zea mays). Just because goat manure is a natural product doesn’t mean it’s completely safe. When used in excess, it can run off, potentially polluting ground water. Till it in well and avoid using it on sloped areas, especially when heavy rain or summer storms are predicted.