Manure Tea
Comparing Various Animal Manures

Some manures are more desirable than others for making manure tea, as follows:

  1. Cow manure
  2. Horse manure
  3. Goat and Sheep manure
  4. Rabbit droppings
  5. Chicken litter
  6. Turkey litter
  7. Pig manure, dog manure, cat manure

Click here for a website that compares the nutrient values of these manure fertilizers.

No matter which manure I use, I always add trace minerals to my manure tea. This supplements the minerals in the manure to more completely meet the needs of plants and soil.

Cow Manure

Dairy cattle produce a lot of manure!

Cow manure is an excellent choice for tea made from manure. It is lower in nitrogen content than some manures, has a decent amount of phosphorus and potassium, and is second only to horse manure in organic matter. The amount of nitrogen it contains depends on how it was aged.

  1. Fresh cow manure has the highest nitrogen content.
  2. Manure left to age 6 to 12 months is lower in nitrogen and has less chance of burning tender roots.
  3. Feedlot manure that has been heaped up while wet gets really hot, burning off most of its nitrogen, and killing many of the beneficial digestive enzymes normally found in cow manure. When you purchase bags of dried manure at a store, it is generally this type of manure.

Horse Manure

Many horses spend a lot of time in their stalls, meaning that the manure piles up. Small acreage horse farms must find a way to get rid of this manure, and may gladly welcome your invitation to cart some away.

Horse manure has good amounts of both nitrogen and potassium, but is very low in phosphorus. Like other manures, it contains valuable trace minerals not found in commercial fertilizers. I add concentrated sea minerals into my manure tea to fill in missing trace minerals.

Generally horse manure has a lot of bedding material mixed with it, so that it may only be 1/3rd manure, 2/3rds bedding material. This means it will take more to make tea.

As with other teas made from manure, you want horse manure that has aged at least 6 months to a year. Once you have removed your tea, throw it into your compost pile. All that bedding material provides an excellent carbon source for your compost pile.

Goat and Sheep Manure

Goat and sheep manures are nutrient rich, and contain the highest potassium to nitrogen level of any of the manures. Like rabbits and cattle, goats and sheep have multiple stomachs, which means their food is better digested, and their manure is rich in digestive enzymes and contains fewer pathogens. (dangers of manure tea)It is best to make your tea from manure that has aged for a while. The good news is, you will probably be collecting your goat or sheep manure from a shed where the animals can run into to get out of the weather. The manure will have piled up, and is probably already aged enough to use for making tea.

Rabbit Manure

A Cold Manure. Unlike other manures, rabbit manure is a good source for phosphorus. It has a higher percentage of nitrogen than manure from cows, horses, sheep, goats, pigs or chickens. Yet, rabbit manure is classified as a cold manure. This is because the nitrogen in rabbit dung is a slow release nitrogen, making it less likely to burn tender roots. Tea made from rabbit manure is an excellent tea.

Chicken and Turkey Litter

Chicken manure tea is a great source of nitrogen, potassium, and other nutrients, and tea made from chicken manure can quickly perk up a plant that needs a shot of nitrogen. Tomatoes, asparagus, cabbage and watermelons are examples of heavy feeders which may greatly benefit from some extra nitrogen. Need a source for chicken manure? Chicken manure is generally used in making mushroom compost, which available in lawn and garden stores. Since chicken litter has so much nitrogen, it is best to let it age for a year before brewing tea. This will lower the amount of nitrogen, and help you to keep it from burning crops and plant roots. If you garden organically, be aware that most large chicken and turkey houses feed their birds a large amount of antibiotics.

Duck Manure

Like chicken manure, duck manure is a hot, wet manure, rich in nutrients. Wet manures smell pretty bad, so beware. Let fowl manure dry down before using it for tea, turning it from time to time. If you don’t turn the top layer of soil, it can seal so that moisture won’t drain down, and the manure will sour. Fowl manure is more alkaline, which is great in the south east USA where soils are acidic, but not so great in the Midwest. It is also rich in urea nitrogen, a great form of nitrogen for the garden.

Pig, Dog and Cat Manure

I do not recommend using these manures for making manure tea, unless it is WELL composted with large amounts of plant matter. According to Cornell University, "Homeowners should not use any manure from dogs, cats, or other meat-eating animals, since there is risk of parasites or disease organisms that can be transmitted to humans." Pathogens from meat eaters don’t break down as readily. If you are going to use it, make sure the compost pile where the manure is heats up to 150 degrees to kill pathogens and parasites.

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