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To rake, or not rake-up cow patties on the pasture?

 
Kevin MacBearach
Posts: 213
Location: Beavercreek, Oregon
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When my chickens were free-range, I never worried about those cow-pies left on the grass because the chickens would literally demolish them into a 4 sq ft poop slick that would quickly break down. Now my chickens are more, or less contained and I've read, and observed mself that if left unchecked, this cow-pies create a "sour patch" on the grass that cows will ignore even a year later.

Should I get out there with a rack and spread them out, or remove them entirely to a compost pile and then later add them back to the field as finished compost, or compost tea?
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Either work, depends if you want the compost or go to the work to make it.

 
Eric Thompson
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Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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Can't you find a few chickens to dedicate to the job? Maybe some savvy flying birds that won't fall easily to predators?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
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We drag harrows across the pasture to break up cow pies and knock down weeds that the cows don't like to eat.

 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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I don't know anything about cows but I was sort of under the impression that wild critters would just pick up where the chickens left off. Are there wild birds, rodents and insects feeding on the cow pies?
If the stuff is just sitting there then I can't help but think that there's some reason why no other critters want to mess with it. Either they aren't available to feed on it, they have better feed elsewhere or the manure is inedible.
Very interesting


That old Sepp line is ringing in my ears again: "... then you must do the pigs work" Or in this case the chicken's job.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
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Craig Dobbelyu wrote:I don't know anything about cows but I was sort of under the impression that wild critters would just pick up where the chickens left off.


It's a dryland phenomena... There isn't enough moisture during the summer to keep the dung moist so that critters or bugs can break it apart. So it mummifies into hard lumps. And if there is rain it gets repelled because the dung is the highest thing in the pasture and it's full of fiber. Sometimes I come across livestock that have been mummified by the same process.

We had a lot of fun when I was a kid: Throwing cow pie Frisbees.
 
Kelly Smith
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Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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hi Kevin,
Can you tell us more about your land/setup?

i have observed something similar to what you mention.
our dairy cows dont seem to stomp in the manure piles left in the (irrigated) pasture as is seen with mob grazing. sometimes the chickens cant/dont get to them because of plant height in the pastures or a variety of other reasons.

we are trying a higher stocking density - but realize we will have limitations with this.

another option is to hold the cows in the laneway overnight (exclude from pasture) and collect the manure for other uses that way.
we have been doing this and composting the manure. we use the chickens to help in the compost mixing process. doable on my small scale, but not sure if that would fit your situation.

instead of raking, can you through some scratch on the pies? that may attract the chickens or other birds that may scratch it up more.

ive heard of mowing over them and mulching over them (to help keep them moist so they break down) as other options.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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I have drug a cattle panel as a harrow. By hand, by garden tractor, and by motorcycle. I had to drag it long ways to break up the dry stuff, so it took a while only getting 4-5 foot per pass.
 
chad Christopher
Posts: 290
Location: Pittsburgh PA
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Quail.
 
Pamela Stumpf
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Location: Northern Virginia, USA
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Back in S. Dakota they called it Dakota coal. I s'pose fer on cold, cold nights when the firewood ran out. The kids were delegated to gather it up. (Could be a myth )
 
It's just a flesh wound! Or a tiny ad:
The stocking stuffer game for all your Permaculture companions
http://www.FoodForestCardGame.com
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