Forget turning lemons into lemonade–turn your horse’s poop into profits.
[Top image: Wikimedia Commons]
One horse produces about 50 pounds of manure a day. Multiply that by the 9.2 million horses in the U.S., and you’ve got 460 million pounds of black gold–most of which isn’t being put to any use. According to the Herald Online, Dan McQueen of South Carolina saw opportunity, and contracted with local horse farms to create “GardenSoxx“–tubes of composted manure that allow gardeners to grow pretty much anywhere there’s sunlight.
“The world is going organic,” says McQueen, “The business is ready to bust wide open. After all, you are putting life back into the soil.”
Sounds like a pretty good way to make your horses earn their keep!
Compost Your Horse Poo
Composting does involve some cost to set up and properly aerate, but it could be a worthwhile investment to get the most out of the giant pile of “black gold” in the muck heap. Here’s a pretty good guide on how to get started. Bulk compost can go for anywhere from $40 to $70 per cubic yard, depending on where you live, so if you already have a manure spreader or something to till and aerate the compost, the only up-front investment you may need is the time to set up and maintain a compost heap.
Turn It Into Energy
You know how fresh manure sort of “steams” on a brisk morning? You can actually use that heat for your barn, your water pipes, or a winter garden. As manure degrades, it can give off up to 120-165ºF in heat, which can be harnessed through an air circulation and pipe system first used at the Diamond Hill Custom Heifers cattle farm in Sheldon, Vermont.
Getting a system like this set up will take some startup capital, but you might be able to get a rebate from local or state agencies or Natural Resource Conservation Services. Here are some additional resources to learn more:
- Project notes from heat recovery system at the University of New Hampshire research farm
- Powerpoint from Cornell Unviersity
- 1993 study on using yard waste for heat
Turn It Into Tea
Before you run off screaming at how gross horse-poo-flavored tea would be, relax–it’s for plants. Annie Haven, a California cattle rancher, learned how to make “manure tea” from her grandmother to fertilize plants. Now she sells dried-out cow patties and horse manure as soil conditioner for gardens…in really, really cute packaging.
If that’s not making the most of what you’ve got, I don’t know what is. I mean, it’s poo. Really cute poo. (Just don’t mix it up with your Lipton.)
Bring Your Horse Poo to the Bank
As I was trawling the internet for more ways to make money with manure, I came across an article about the Horse Poo Bank , a local UK service that supposedly allows farmers to pool together their manure for a larger composting operation. Unfortunately their current website, which has changed its name from Horse Poo Bank to iHorse Bank, seems pretty sketchy, so by no means do I recommend piling your investment money into a non-publicly traded foreign company that doesn’t provide any financial reports on their website. But I think the idea behind it does have some merit–could your area benefit from a manure composting co-op of sorts?
Turn It Into Art
Yes. People actually buy this (literal) crap, and other forms of manure art.
So the next time your horse poops in his water bucket…or in your helmet (true story, happened to my instructor!), give him a pat. He’s just trying to help earn his keep.