How to Compost Cow Manure

Having trouble getting rid of the over piled cow manure that is causing odor and flies in your home. You do not have to worry about this anymore because I have a solution for you. You can compost your cow manure to reduce its volume and stench. But how do you compost cow manure?

Prepare the raw materials, dewater and turn cow to compost. You can compost through natural methods like using fermentation grooves or the windrow process. This method takes roughly 6 months. You may also use machines such as the fermentation tanks which take 7-10 days.

Whichever method you choose to use, here is a step-by-step guide on how to turn your cow manure into nutritious fertilizer for your plants.

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Can You Make Compost Out of Cow Manure?

Yes, you can. Composting cow manure is beneficial and can easily be done even by DIYs. The best manure to compost is the one that contains bedding material like straw, sawdust, spilled hay, or wood shavings.

How to Make Cow Manure Compost

Cow manure is a valuable resource containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and humus. Composting it turns it into a highly efficient fertilizer for your plants.

How to make cow manure compost

There are three modes of composting cow manure namely:

  • Windrow composting.
  • Use of fermentation grooves.
  • Use of fermentation tanks.

I advise you to consider the cost, occupying area, operating expense, composting efficiency, and composting environment before you start your composting process.  

Here is a step-by-step process of composting your manure.

The first step is preparing raw material this entails managing the water content in your manure and adding sawdust or straws to adjust its Carbon Nitrate (C/N) ratio. Once you are done with this, make your compost pile and turn the cow manure.

Preparing raw materials

You should consider the water content in your manure before you compost it. The bad water content will inhibit the composting process and diminish the quality of your compost.

The water content in fresh manure is approximately 80%. However, the proper water content for composting manure is 50-60%.

You need to dewater the manure. You can do this by using the VP systems manure treatment technology, you may also use machines such as the cow dung dewatering screw press machine.

Turning cow manure

Heat increases and oxygen decreases during the composting process which kills microorganisms. Therefore, you need to turn the compost pile regularly to adjust the conditions when using the windrow and fermentation grooves process.

  • Use a compost turner to turn the compost when the pile reaches 50-60 degrees centigrade.
  • Turn the compost pile three or four times in the first week.
  • You can reduce the frequency to every two days after the first week.
  • Finish the composting process when you notice that the odor has disappeared, the raw materials have become loose, fine, and black.

How do the methods help dewater your manure?

The methods separate liquid from solid materials. Dewatering the manure will loosen it to inhibit caking, thus, making it conducive for making compost. Once you have dewatered your manure, you can proceed with your preferred mode of composting as explained below.

1. The Windrow Process

The process is best suited for big volumes such as those generated by local governments or communities. You should consider this method if you are dealing with large volumes of manure.

Steps:

  • Place you manure on rows of long piles called windrows and aerate them periodically by manually or mechanically turning them.
  • Your ideal pile should be between 4-8 feet in height with a width of 14-16 feet to enable it to generate and maintain enough heat and allow the proper flow of oxygen.
  • You should leave the straws to compose for an average of 16 weeks.
  • The last step involves screening your compost to remove contaminants like plastics and metals.

2. Use of Fermentation Grooves

Steps:

  • Build some grooves with at least three walls where you can place cow manure.
  • The manure’s height can be 0,8m, 1.2m, or 1.5m.
  • Keep turning the manure and leave it to compost.
  • Screen your compost for contaminants like plastics.

3. Use of Fermentation Tanks

Fermentation tanks belong to aerobic composting in a closed fermentation environment. The equipment helps hasten the composting process and is easy to use. It entails placing cow manure inside the tanks which automatically finishes the composting process which should take 7-10 days.

How long does Cow Manure take to Compost?

The length of the composting period is affected by factors such as temperatures and manure volume. Composting cow manure requires high temperatures that improve the decomposition of organic matters and kills pathogens and grass seeds.

  • If you choose to compost your manure without any equipment, it will take you six (6) months to compost cow manure.
  • On the other hand, if you use manure composting equipment, you can shorten the composting period to 20 days.
  • An aerobic fermentation pot will finish the composting process within 7-10 days

How Much Composted Cow Manure to Use

I recommend that you spread approximately 40 pounds of composted cow manure per 100 square feet of land. You should work the fertilizer into the top 6-9 inches of the soil to ensure they mix well. Apply the manure during the spring season to achieve the best results.

Sources and References

  1. Epa.gov: Sustainable Management of Food
  2. Gov: Properties of Manure
  3. Usda.gov: Composting Manure
  4. Wsu.edu: Compost Equipment

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