So in an effort to finally better my manure management game, I'm wondering if anyone out there can help me troubleshoot my manure pack composting troubles. Every year I let my two goats manure and urine mix with the silly amount of hay that the goats waste through the late fall and winter and then clean it out and pile it up in the spring. I pile it up either in a 4'x4' three sided bins or into large piles that are often about 5-6' in diameter and at least 3' tall. I get these good and damp if the hay seems dry when I initially stack the pile and then cover the whole thing with a tarp.
The main issue I've been having is that I really would like to hot compost this stuff to kill off all the grass seed that is in the hay and manure and to speed up my composting process. From what I've tried so far I can never quite get everything to completely compost and end up always having to let it sit for a year to completely break down and we always end up with tons of grass sprouting in the pile and wherever we decide to use the compost. I've tried turning it every four-five days, which typically gets it up into the 140-150 F range (measured with a compost thermometer) for a week or two, but after that it always kind of drops off to between 100-120 F and no amount of turning seems to get it back up to temperature.
I'm wondering if it's possible if there's not enough Nitrogen in the pile and so that's why I'm having this issue? Or maybe not enough oxygen? Or maybe the hay is too matted and not able to break down quickly? I'm not sure. Thanks in advance for any advice/ideas on this issue.
Location: Southern Colorado 6200 ft elevation, 20" annual precip, zone 6a/5b
posted 3 years ago
I'd suggest trying it without a tarp unless you live where it rains to much to do that. Perhaps that cover is cutting the temp due to lack of oxygen, although, as someone already said, sounds like low nitrogen.
My solution is to be plenty satisfied with the good compost out of each pile and then happily "seed" a new pile with whatever didn't break down the first time around. I like to think of it as a little savings account toward future soil good fortune.
With my winter bedding from my three goats I soak the material in a tub for an hour before it goes on the pile, that and you do need more nitrogen for sure, fresh grass is what I use, because I have so much....
Hint, the water and wet winter bedding will not be a joyful experience.....but do add the water dregs back to the pile, lots of good stuff there.
Goats don't produce much urea like other animals, that's why it's safe to add raw and not burn roots, but that means way less nitrogen....
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