Animal Manure Comparison | Alpacas of Montana

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Animal Manure Comparison

  • 3 min read

Other Natural Fertilizers

There is a large range of natural fertilizers available on the market today.

Do not be misled by the N-P-K numbers that suggest manure is less powerful than chemicals. The values of manure and organic fertilizers in general, are often based on the relative amount of nitrogen (N), phosphoric acid (P) and potash (K) they contain. While these are important elements, it is misleading to make a direct comparison between farm manures and chemical fertilizers on the basis of the relative amounts of N-P-K.

Alpaca Manure (1.7-.69-1.2)

Alpaca Compost has the highest N-P-K of any natural fertilizer. It is lower in organic matter content than the manure from most other barnyard livestock (cows, horses, goats and sheep) creating a higher concentration of nutrients as well as improves soil texture and water-holding capacity. This lower organic content allows alpaca manure to be spread directly onto plants without burning them. It is the decomposition of organic matter content of the manure that indicates their efficient digestion system. The nitrogen and potassium content of alpaca dung is comparatively high, an indication of good fertilizer value.

Bird Manures 

Bird manures tend to be "hotter", where the plants can be burned easily if overused. Overall they are much richer in many nutrients, especially nitrogen, which marijuana plants require in their veg phase in copious amounts. But not the flower phase, thus this type of fertilizer use is limited.

Chicken Manure (1.1-1.4-0.6)

brown hen chicken for chicken compost

It is common among farmers. It's high in nitrogen, (great for vegging plants not flowering), but can easily burn plants unless composted first. A small amount of dried chicken manure can be mixed in small concentrations directly into soil. Chicken manure is also a common ingredient in some mushroom compost recipes. One potential concern for the budding organic farmer, is the large amount of antibiotics fed to domestic fowl in large production facilities. It is also suggested that some caution should be used when handling chicken droppings, whether fresh or dried.

Poultry Manures (1.1-1.4-0.6)

These are often simply chicken droppings mixed with the droppings of other domesticated birds including duck, pigeon, and turkey. They are "hotter" than most animal droppings, and in general they can be treated like chicken manure. Animal Manures vary by species, and also depending of how the animals are kept and manures are collected. Urine contains a large percentage of nitrogen and potassium. This means that animals boarded in a fashion where urine is absorbed with their feces (by straw or other similar bedding), can produce organic compost that is richer in nutrients.

Cattle manure

Cattle Manure (0.6-0.2-0.5)

Steer manure is one of the old standbys, but it's not the most beloved because it often contains unwanted salts and weed seeds. It is considered "cold" manure since it is moister and less concentrated than most other animal manure. It breaks down and gives off nutrients fairly slowly. It can be an especially good source of beneficial bacteria, because of the complex bovine digestive system. Recent expansion in the use of bovine growth hormones to increase milk production certainly could become a concern for organic farmers trying to source safe cattle manures. The healthier the cow, and the healthier the cow's diet, the more nutrients its manure will carry.

Goat Manure (0.7-0.3-0.9)

It can be treated in a similar fashion to sheep dung or horse manure. It is usually fairly dry and rich and is a "hot" manure (therefore best composted before use).

Horse manure

Horse Manure (0.7-0.3-0.6)

Horse manure is about half as rich as chicken manure, but richer in nitrogen than cow manure. And, like chicken droppings, it's considered "hot". Horse manure often contains a lot of weed seeds, which means it's a good idea to compost it using a hot composting method. Some sources of mushroom compost contain large quantities of horse manure and bedding in their mix. So from one standpoint, horses manure use in herb growing is already fairly well documented.

Sheep Manure (0.7-0.3-0.9

white sheep representing sheep manure

It is another "hot" manure. It is somewhat dry and very rich. Manure from sheep fed hay and grain will be more potent than manure from animals that live on pasture.


Pig Manure (0.5-0.3-0.5)

It is highly concentrated or "hot" manure. It is less rich in nitrogen than horse or bird crap, but stronger than many of the other animal manures. Pig manure is best used when mixed and composted with other manures and/or large quantities of vegetable matter.

Rabbit Manure (2.4-1.4-0.6)

It is the hottest of the animal manures. It may even be higher in nitrogen than some poultry manures. As an added bonus it also contains fairly high percentages of phosphates. Because of it's high nitrogen content, rabbit crap is best used in small quantities lightly mixed into soil or composted before use.

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