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Horse manure: everything you ever wanted to know

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You will be shocked to find out that mice produce 50 to 75 pellets per day or rabbits produce 200 to 300 pellets per day. But what if we told you that horses poop up to 50 pounds in a day? In total about 9 tons per year. Now, there's a lot of manure – the worst smelling challenge of raising a horse!

If you own horses, you must be very familiar with the concept of manure. To some people, fascination with poop may seem strange or repulsive. Horse owners know they have to be careful with manure because the quality and quantity of manure is an indicator of animal health.

Stool production is considered a key window proxy for gut and overall health, like heart rate and stomach sounds. Therefore, horse owners will not be offended by a healthy pile of poop. Rather, it is an important sign that the horse's digestive system is functioning properly. So, what does horse manure look like? Does it smell? This article will discuss everything you ever wanted to know about horse manure.

What does horse manure look like?

Horse Manure - Everything You Ever Wanted To Know - 1
Horses release about 8 piles of manure per day.

©Vitalii Mikhailiuk/Shutterstock.com

Horse manure is called manure, but it can also go by many names, such as horse bag, horse manure, potato chips, road apple, mahuy or horse apple. Horse manure is green and should be moist, but not too soggy. Horses release about 8 piles of manure a day, which can add up to 50 pounds. Common horse manure includes grass, minerals, exfoliated cells, grain fiber, water, and sand, depending on the type of soil the hay or grass grows in. Horse manure isn't just a pile of crap, though—every detail in the manure should be noted for any notable inconsistencies. But what does normal horse manure look like? Below, we take a look at each of the properties of horse manure.


Typically, horse manure is green, but it can also turn brown or black. The color of a horse's manure is usually a good indicator of its nutrition. If your horse is eating alfalfa instead of hay hay, it will have a more vivid green color in the pile, whereas poorer quality hay will often have a brownish tinge. Other feed choices can also cause typical color differences. For example, a diet rich in fats and oils can make a horse's droppings gray, while beet pulp can make it a reddish-brown color.

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Watch out for warning signs, such as a blood red color or a layer of mucus that gives the stool a sticky or gray appearance. Knowing the typical color of horse manure and keeping track of any changes is crucial.

If your horse's droppings have a yellow, sticky coating, it's most likely mucus. If you see it, chances are the feces haven't finished passing through your horse's digestive system. Feed impaction is the most common cause of slowed intestinal transit and can lead to colic. Make sure your horse has enough water to drink.


The ideal horse manure pile consists of shaped balls of manure that are moist but not overly so. Some horses will occasionally excrete a small amount of water before or after the manure. After work, when the horse is anxious or the temperature has spiked, the horse's droppings may appear softer and more like cow dung. A pile of manure should contain decomposed material with no discernible fibers or other feed debris.

While your horse may exhibit the classic steak phenomenon at certain times, if it occurs at unexpected times or is particularly persistent, it may be a sign that your horse is experiencing gastrointestinal distress.

Also, if your horse's droppings don't form neat balls, there could be more serious health problems. Pressure may also cause piles of soft or liquid stools. Certain medications, such as antibiotics, may also disrupt a horse's gut flora. The consistency of poop may be affected.


Horse manure contains grass and grain fibers, exfoliated cells, water, and sand or grit. Water makes up about 75% of the total weight of manure and should be broken down before being used to fertilize the garden as it may also contain undigested grains and weed seeds which may still germinate. Horse manure may also contain worms, which may mean your horse needs deworming.

What you feed your pet can definitely affect its poop. Horse manure may also contain undigested oat or long hay fiber. There is a misconception among many horse owners – and it's not really backed up by science – that large particles in horse manure indicate poor chewing. In fact, the finding may have more to do with the quality of the feed than the horse's ability to chew.

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How Much Poop Do Horses Produce?

Palomino horse with long mane running freely on green meadow.
Typically, a horse produces 35 to 50 pounds of manure per day, which equates to about 9 tons per year.

© Kwadrat/Shutterstock.com

The amount of manure a horse produces is influenced by its nutrition, how easily it digests its food, and other health conditions such as dental health. Typically, a horse produces 35 to 50 pounds of manure per day, which equates to about 9 tons per year. While some gigantic draft horses produce more manure, smaller horses produce less. Therefore, keeping stables and paddocks clean is essential to the health of your horses.

If manure is not cleaned regularly, it creates ideal conditions for mold, bacteria and parasites to thrive and creates harmful ammonia fumes in the stable. The average horse defecates four to twelve times a day, with stallions and foals more frequent than mares and geldings.

With a diet rich in high-fiber foods such as hay and grass, the horse will produce more manure due to reduced digestion. Horses can effectively hold fiber through their cecum and stomach microbes, but they cannot fully digest it.

Does horse manure smell?

Usually, horse manure does not give off an unpleasant smell. However, if you smell a strong, unpleasant odor, it could be a sign of a gut problem. Horse manure emits less of an unpleasant smell than cat or dog feces. In fact, most people don't find it particularly unpleasant. If there is too much food, nutritional imbalances, or digestive issues, your horse's manure may smell very bad. The horse may be eating too much protein, or if its poop smells like rotting meat, its body may not be absorbing nutrients adequately.

For most of the forage and fiber they consume, horses rely on microbes in their gastrointestinal tract to aid in digestion. Horses with ulcers, bowel disease, or a sudden change in diet can have strange, foul-smelling droppings. In addition to a bad smell, you might expect a difference in color or firmness, depending on the severity of your indigestion.

What is horse manure good for?

Unsurprisingly, horse manure is a well-known fertilizer for many backyard gardens and a great source of nutrition. Farmers value horse manure because it improves soil fertility, promotes soil rejuvenation, and provides a high-quality crop when composted.

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Horse manure is used locally as a fertilizer for pastures, fields or open spaces. Plus, you can transport the manure offsite to compost or fertilize.

Horse manure should be aged for about six months before using it in the garden. Fresh horse manure can be used to make dung tea, which can then be used to fertilize vegetable gardens and gardens, or to create a "lasagna garden".

Can horse manure be used as fuel?

Black Frisian horse running and galloping in summer.
Horse manure can be used as fuel.

©Makarova Viktoria/Shutterstock.com

If the use of horse manure as fertilizer doesn't surprise you, then maybe it could be because horse manure can actually be used as fuel. It appears that dried horse manure is an excellent fuel. Although it has been used as a heating fuel, you generally wouldn't want to cook marshmallows with it. Writers at Backwoods Home describe their process of turning horse manure into "bricks" that can later be burned as a heat source.

Since horse manure contains a lot of energy, it can be pressed into pellets or briquettes. Including bedding, a horse's manure contains 30 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy per day, the equivalent of three liters of fuel oil. In addition, the ash produced is excellent for replenishing the soil.

Horse manure can also be used as a building material. Bricks are occasionally made from horse manure. But what would a dung brick house smell like in a humid climate? Most of us would take a step back, even though most probably wouldn't find the stench of horse manure offensive.

Is horse manure harmful to humans?

Exposure to horse manure has no known harmful consequences for humans. Horse manure is unlikely to transmit any disease to humans, including E. coli bacterial infection, because sunlight would kill it directly. Humans are more susceptible to diseases and parasites in human feces and dog feces. Horse manure is generally not dangerous, although it is unpleasant to spot on walking trails and other public areas. However, if your horse is defecating on a shared trail or in a parking lot, you should politely stop and remove the manure pile.


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American Quarter Buckeye stallion running in a paddock.
American Quarter Buckeye stallion running in a paddock.

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about the author

Victor Victor

For six years, I have been a professional writer and editor of books, blogs and websites, with a particular focus on animals, technology and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with my friends.

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