Skip to Content

How Long Does It Take to Compost Manure?

This post may contain affiliate links. As an affiliate of retailers(like Amazon), we earn from qualifying purchases.

The practice of using manure for soil improvement has been there for a long time. It is becoming more popular in these modern days; as a way to manage animal waste and as organic fertilizer. However, since various animals have pathogens, diseases, or weeds, it is of utmost importance to compost manure at certain temperatures to get rid of any harmful substances. 

So, how long does it take to compost manure? The length of time it takes to compost manure depends on the animal the manure came from. 

  • Chicken manure: 6-9 months
  • Horse manure: 2-3 months
  • Pig manure: 7-10 days
  • Cow manure: 6 months
  • Sheep manure: 2 weeks
  • Goat manure: 3-6 weeks
  • Rabbit manure: 6 months
  • Turkey manure: 2-6 months
  • Cat manure: 2 years
  • Dog manure: 2 years

Regardless of the animals you rear at your home, you can use their waste in a more economical and beneficial way. In this article, we’ve rounded up information about manure from animals such as chicken, goats, cattle, horses, pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs, turkey, and sheep. Keep reading to learn the best ways you can use each type of manure.

Chicken Manure

Chicken manure is one of the most preferred organic fertilizers. This is thanks to its high concentration of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are great for plant growth. It should not be directly used since it may burn the plants. It also contains other nutrients such as calcium, sulfur, among others. 

You can compost this manure from your own shed or buy it from nearby farms. Each chicken produces about 11 pounds of manure every month, so you can do the math based on the number of chicken in your yard. 

Chicken manure may be harmful due to the high number of pathogens and parasites. Make sure you keep the temperatures above 140 degrees to get rid of these substances. You can also wait for an extra 120 days just to make sure it’s safe. When you harvest the crops, wear gloves, and wash them thoroughly.

It takes about six weeks to nine months to compost chicken manure, but you can let it compost naturally for up to one year. It is best for vegetables. According to a report published in the American Journal of Plant Nutrition and Fertilization Technology, combining chicken manure and chemical fertilizer leads to higher agricultural yield. This is because organic fertilizers often have an unbalanced chemical composition, and they may be ineffective on their own.

How long does it take to compostSix to nine months
How long can you storeOne year
What beneficial elements exist in chicken manureNitrogen
Phosphorus
Potassium
Calcium
Sulfur
Manganese
Chlorine
Boron
Iron
Molybdenum
What non-beneficial elements exist in each type of manureMycobacterium
E. Coli
Salmonella
Best ratio with other items
Best other items to include
You should add water to the chicken compost regularly.Combining chicken manure with mineral fertilizer yields better results.
What temperature if different to kill any pathogenTemperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit can kill Salmonella and E. coli.
Compost with this manure can be used for?Chicken manure is used as organic fertilizer. It has the highest nitrogen concentration making it ideal for vegetables and flowers. It also adds organic matter to the soil, improving the ability of the soil to hold water for a long time.

Horse Manure

Horse manure is an ideal and cheaper organic fertilizer that takes two to three months to compost. One horse produces a large amount of waste every month, so as long as you’re close to a horse farm, or own horses, horse manure isn’t hard to come by. It’s a better organic fertilizer since it has more organic matter and nutritional value than cow manure. 

However, horse manure has a lot of weed seeds that may sprout once you spread it on your farm. Composting horse manure is very straightforward. Adding organic materials is not necessary. You can compost the manure for as long as possible, but the ideal compost should last two to three months.

To kill the weeds and pathogens, you need to compost the manure in temperatures above 160 degrees F. The NPK value of horse manure is approximately 0.7-0.3-0.6. But according to Rodale Institute, this concentration varies depending on the horse’s age, diet, and the materials you mix the manure with. The high organic material concentration ensures that your soil can retain moisture for a long time, and it improves air circulation within the soil.

How long does it take to compostTwo to three months
How long can you storeThree to four months
What beneficial elements exist in each type of manure
Nitrogen
Phosphorus
Potassium
Sulfur
Calcium
Magnesium
What non-beneficial elements exist in each type of manureWeeds seeds
Grass seeds

It depends on the shed type and the region you rear your horses.
Best ratio with other items
Best other items to include
Straw, water
What temperature if different to kill any pathogen160 degrees F and above
Compost with this manure can be used for?It has lower concentrations of potassium and phosphorus and high concentrations of nitrogen. This makes it ideal for nonflowering plants like potatoes, lettuce, garlic, and lawns.It also has a higher concentration of organic matter.

Pig Manure

Pigs are some of the cleanest animals, but their sheds speak otherwise. If you own a pig, you know how hectic it is to manage pig waste. One mature pig can produce up to 13 pounds of waste daily. With the millions of pigs in the world, that’s a whole lot of pig manure. The good news is that compost pig manure can be used as organic fertilizer. However, you need to be very careful with it since it could potentially harm your crops. Pig manure has some harmful pathogens, such as salmonella and E. coli. 

Pig manure has a considerable amount of organic matter, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, molybdenum, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, and magnesium. All of these elements are beneficial for crops, and they improve your soils in the long run. With all the fuss about harmful chemicals in inorganic fertilizers, pig manure offers a more environmentally friendly way to grow your crops.

How long does it take to compostSeven to ten days
How long can you storeThree to five years
What beneficial elements exist in each type of manure
Nitrogen
Phosphorus
Potassium
Calcium
Magnesium
Sulfur
Manganese
Copper
Zinc
Chlorine
Iron
Boron
Molybdenum
What non-beneficial elements exist in each type of manureRoundworms
Parasites
Pathogens
Best ratio with other itemsFor great compost, a carbon: nitrogen ratio of 6:1 should be followed.
Best other items to include
Carbon materials such as sawdust, corn stalks, hay, and straw
What temperature if different to kill any pathogen130 degrees F to 160 degrees F
Compost with this manure can be used for?Pig manure is best used as organic fertilizer for various crops. 

Cow/Cattle Manure

Cow manure is one of the most commonly used manure in the world. There are cows in almost every rural setting. Unlike horses or pigs, cows have a very thorough digestive system where food is taken through four stomachs. However, the waste still contains pathogens and parasites that can be removed by hot composting. It may not have high nitrogen concentrations that may harm your plants, but it has ammonia gas, which is equally harmful. 

Cow manure has nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Also, since cows mainly feed on grass and other types of fodder, this manure also contains high amounts of organic matter, which are a great soil amendment tool. Besides acting as a fertilizer, cow waste can also be used as biogas fuel. 

How long does it take to compostSix months
How long can you storeSix months
What beneficial elements exist in each type of manure
Nitrogen
Phosphorus
Potassium
Ammonia
What non-beneficial elements exist in each type of manureSalmonella
Listeria
Clostridium
Best ratio with other items
Best other items to include
Straw, hay, lime, or ash can be added during composting.A mixture of cow manure and inorganic fertilizer yields better results.
What temperature if different to kill any pathogen120 degrees F to 160 degrees F
Compost with this manure can be used for?Compost cow manure is a great organic fertilizer for a wide variety of crops. The nutrients are well balanced, and it doesn’t have high concentrations of nitrogen, which could be harmful to younger plants.

Sheep Manure

Due to the large amount of waste that sheep produce on a daily basis, it is crucial to have a proper waste management system. Besides feces, sheep waste also includes urine and beddings. Composting this into fertilizer prevents any pollution that occurs from unattended animal waste. Sheep feed on weeds and grass, that’s why their waste contains a lot of organic matter. It also contains a considerable amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, as well as other nutrients, which are of benefit to your crops. 

It doesn’t take that long to compost sheep manure. In about two weeks, you can comfortably spread the manure without fear of harming your crops. Composting this manure gets rid of potentially harmful pathogens. Besides the usual NPK nutrients, Sheep manure also contains aliphatics, protein, and cellulose. Composting also helps reduce the odor. Sheep manure does help the soil to retain moisture for a long time, prevent erosion, and adds to the soil’s fertility. 

How long does it take to compostTwo weeks
How long can you storeAt least three to four months
What beneficial elements exist in each type of manure
Proteins
Organic acid
Cellulose
Aliphatics
Nitrogen
Potassium
Phosphorus

Other nutrients – boron, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, sulfur, and zinc
What non-beneficial element exist in each type of manureListeria
Best ratio with other itemsCarbon: Nitrogen ratio 30:1
Best other items to include

What temperature if different to kill any pathogenTemperatures above 130 degrees F
Compost with this manure can be used for?Sheep manure is used as a fertilizer due to the higher phosphorus and potassium concentration.It also adds organic matter to the soil. This improves the ability of the soil to hold water. It also ensures proper air circulation.

Goat Manure

Goat manure has a higher nitrogen concentration than chicken manure and cow manure. This makes it ideal for nitrogen-hungry plants. Just like the sheep manure, it takes a couple of weeks to compost goat manure. The resulting manure is safe to use, more nutritious, and odorless. 

Goats and sheep don’t produce as much waste as pigs and cows, but you can still purchase it at a favorable cost. Goats also excrete in the form of pellets, which are easy to collect. These pellets also facilitate optimum air circulation in the soil. 

Besides having a higher nitrogen concentration, goat manure is also equally nutritious as the other manure, making it ideal for a wide range of crops. And given the short timespan it takes to compost, goat manure is a favorite of many composters who use compost for a variety of tasks. 

How long does it take to compostThree to six weeks
How long can you storeSix months
 What beneficial elements exist in each type of manure
Nitrogen
Phosphorus
Nitrogen
What non-beneficial elements exist in each type of manureIt may contain weeds.
Best ratio with other items
Best other items to include
Grass, eggshells, straw, kitchen scraps
What temperature if different to kill any pathogen120 degrees F to 160 degrees F
Compost with this manure can be used for?Organic fertilizer

Rabbit Manure

If you own a couple of rabbits, or know of a farmer who does, you can try out the rabbit manure. Rabbits excrete small, odorless pellets. You can use them directly, but it’s advisable to compost the manure before using it. Composting rabbit waste takes at least six months. It’s also one of the safest manures to use since it’s not that hot (it contains a balanced amount of nitrogen). 

Rabbits don’t produce a large amount of waste, but it’s readily available for sale. When composting, make sure you add carbon components such as straw. This helps minimize the excess amounts of nitrogen. Interestingly, earthworms are fond of rabbit manure. Earthworms contribute to air circulation in the soil, and they improve the structure of the soil. 

Rabbit manure also has higher concentrations of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. It also contains traces of calcium, boron, zinc, among others. Nitrogen helps in the lush green that you see in crops. Phosphorus makes sunlight usable by crops. Potassium enables crops to endure diseases and drought. 

How long does it take to compostAt least six months
How long can you storeAt least 6 months
What beneficial elements exist in each type of manure
Nitrogen
Phosphorus
Potassium
Calcium
Cobalt
Zinc
Sulfur
Boron
What non-beneficial element exist in each type of manureE. coli
Best ratio with other items
Best other items to include
Straw, wood shavings
What temperature if different to kill any pathogen130 degrees F to 160 degrees F
Compost with this manure can be used for?It adds organic matter to the soil. This improves moisture retention in the soil, air circulation, soil structure, and soil drainage.It also has the crucial plant nutrients (NPK) that boost the plant’s growth.

Turkey Manure

As mentioned earlier, each animal’s manure nutrient composition varies as a result of diet, age, and beddings. Turkey manure has one of the highest nitrogen concentrations, and takes two to six months to compost. Thanks to composting, and additional carbon elements such as straw, you can prevent this nitrogen from reaching your crops. Turkey manure is also a great source of organic matter.

How long does it take to compostTwo to six months
How long can you storeThree to six months
What beneficial elements exist in each type of manure
Nitrogen
Phosphorus
Potassium
What non-beneficial elements exist in each type of manureWeed seeds
Pathogens
Best ratio with other items
Best other items to include
Woodchips, straw
What temperature if different to kill any pathogen130 degrees F to 150 degrees F
Compost with this manure can be used for?It’s a great organic fertilizer with a higher concentration of nitrogen than most animal manure.It’s also a great soil amendment tool that boosts the soil structure, moisture retention and 

Cat Manure

We’ve been talking about livestock manure and how great it is, but what about household pets that eat a totally different diet? 

Cat waste is known to contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium at the same levels as livestock manure. It is possible to compost cat manure and use it for lawns. It takes at least two years for cat manure to compost. 

However, cats excrete eggs of toxoplasmosis, a disease that resembles the flu. Pregnant women are more prone to this disease, as well as people with AIDS. Therefore, it’s not the best idea to use cat manure on edible crops. It takes about two years to compost cat manure, and it may still have traces of intestinal worms. Since it still has some nutrients, this manure can be used on lawns. 

How long does it take to compostNot less than two years
How long can you storeTwo years or more
What beneficial elements exist in each type of manure
Nitrogen
Phosphorus
Potassium
What non-beneficial elements exist in each type of manureToxoplasmosis
Parasites and other disease
Best ratio with other items
Best other items to include
Leaves, straw, newspaper
What temperature if different to kill any pathogen165 degrees F or higher
Compost with this manure can be used for?Cat manure is an ideal organic fertilizer for flowerbeds and lawns. Avoid using it on edible plants.It has a higher concentration of phosphorus.

Dog Manure

Dog manure is a lot similar to cat manure, as it also takes at least two years to compost. 

Due to their diets, their waste has a lot of bacteria. You need temperatures of higher than 165 degrees F, and it’s not always possible to achieve this temperature. Using this manure on vegetables and other edible crops poses great health risks to humans. 

However, it’s still a great fertilizer for lawns since it still breaks down to nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Consider this as a safer way to dispose of dog waste. Also, ensure that you use biodegradable materials to compost this waste. 

How long does it take to compostNot less than two years
How long can you storeNot less than two years
What beneficial elements exist in each type of manure
Nitrogen
Phosphorus
Potassium
What non-beneficial elements exist in each type of manureAbout 60 diseases that are harmful to human beingsGiardiaCryptosporidium
Best ratio with other itemsSawdust – one shovel of sawdust for every two shovels of dog waste
Best other items to include
Carbon materials such as sawdustEggshellsGrass
What temperature if different to kill any pathogen130 degrees F to 165 degrees F
Compost with this manure can be used for?It can be used as organic fertilizer for lawns and ornamental crops.

NPK in Animal Compost Manure

Fertilizers, both organic and inorganic, contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. (NPK). They also contain other secondary nutrients such as boron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, chlorine, manganese, molybdenum, and sulfur. 

  • Nitrogen – Nitrogen is essential for tissue growth. It leads to the growth of leaves, but it doesn’t facilitate the growth of flowers and fruits. Also, too much nitrogen can burn the plants, and it can prevent the uptake of other nutrients by the plants. Nitrogen is abundant in compost manure.
  • Phosphorus – Phosphorus is responsible for plant roots development, large seeds, and the development of fruits. Most livestock and pet manure have considerable concentrations of manure.
  • Potassium – Potassium makes the plants more disease and drought-resistant.
  • Magnesium – Magnesium supports chlorophyll. Without magnesium, plants can’t benefit from sunlight.
  • Calcium – Calcium is responsible for the deposition of cell walls. It also facilitates a balanced chemical environment within the soil and water availability.

Most chemical fertilizers have an NPK ratio indicated on the bags. For instance, if you get an NPK ratio of 12-11-10, that means that that fertilizer contains 12 pounds of nitrate (nitrogen), 11 pounds of phosphate (phosphorus), and 10 pounds potash (potassium). 

However, it may be hard to come with such ratios for compost manure since they have both nutrients that are readily available, and those that are slowly released. Also, unlike synthetic fertilizers, they have more nutrients that don’t fit in the NPK ratio. 

Organic Fertilizers vs. Inorganic Fertilizers

Organic fertilizers include the livestock and pet manures that we’ve reviewed above. Others may include plants and animal products. Inorganic fertilizers, on the other hand, are commercially manufactured from natural minerals. 

According to Penhallegon, inorganic fertilizers have limited nutrients. Also, since they are in an inorganic form, plants take them up within a few hours or a few days. Inorganic fertilizers are more of a spot-improvement mechanism, whereby they carry specific nutrients to serve specific needs. Organic fertilizers have a lot of nutrients at lower levels. 

Soils also need to convert these nutrients into a form that plants can use. This takes time. That’s why it’s possible to find traces of manure on your farm, years after application.

Besides adding to the nutrients, organic fertilizers carry a lot of organic matter that improves the soil’s structure. Organic matter ensures optimum air circulation, improved soil capillarity, and a thriving environment for soil microorganisms. 

They also have food for animals such as earthworms, which are crucial for soil development. However, organic fertilizers can’t be manufactured, and they take quite some time to compost. This makes them quite an expensive option when compared to inorganic fertilizers. 

Chemical fertilizers are highly soluble, and they lead to polluting the soil and water bodies in the long run. They also alter the soil’s pH. It’s essential to measure the pH of your soil to ensure you know which nutrients are scarce before applying both of these fertilizers. 

Combined Application

As mentioned earlier, organic fertilizers have a lower concentration of nutrients, and they are released into the soil slowly. Inorganic fertilizers are quickly absorbed, and they are rich in specific nutrients. According to research by Jinwei Zhao and Lianren Zhou, a combined application of these two fertilizers leads to increased yield in the long run. 

Final Thoughts

There you have it. If you were wondering how long it will take to compost manure for your type of livestock or pet, this post answers your question. It also guides you on understanding the various nutrients available in each animal’s manure and the best way to use it.

To recap, here’s how long it takes the manure of different animals to compost:

  • Chicken manure: 6-9 months
  • Horse manure: 2-3 months
  • Pig manure: 7-10 days
  • Cow manure: 6 months
  • Sheep manure: 2 weeks
  • Goat manure: 3-6 weeks
  • Rabbit manure: 6 months
  • Turkey manure: 2-6 months
  • Cat manure: 2 years
  • Dog manure: 2 years

How Long Does It Take to Grow Tomatoes?
← Previous
Can You Grow Tomatoes From Supermarket Tomatoes?
Next →