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Horse Oversupplementation: Environmental EffectsBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · July 15, 2014

Horse manure is an excellent fertilizer, can be turned into paper products, and even used to make bricks to build houses. Heat recovery technology harnesses the heat produced through composting to improve comfort in your barn or indoor arena. That said, there are many negative attributes of horse manure.

Horse owners may ponder whether a single steed’s manure can negatively impact the environment. The answer is an undeniable “YES!”

In a Journal of Animal Science article, researchers reported that the estimated 9.2 million horses in the United States generate 78.5 tons of manure each and every year.* One horse alone defecates approximately 10 times a day, producing approximately 50 pounds of feces, urine, and soiled bedding. Containing manure from single-horse farms is equally important as the daily mass production of waste found on larger farms and ranches.

Here are five reasons why horse owners should take steps to properly dispose of their horses’ waste:

  1. Leaching of nitrogen and phosphorus into waterways has massive deleterious effects on oxygenation, water quality, the health of fish and other wildlife dependent on the water, and encourages overgrowth of algae;

  2. Odors produced from large volumes of ill-maintained manure are off-putting;

  3. Parasites and other infectious microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi can cause infections in humans and other animals that come in contact with feces;

  4. Poorly managed feces attracts pesty insects; and

  5. Money. If horses are oversupplemented, excess minerals are excreted in your horse’s feces and into the environment. Appropriate nutrition with balanced macro- and micronutrients not only maximizes your horse’s health and saves you money but also the health of the world’s water supply.

*Gordon, M.E., M.S. Edwards, C.R. Sweeney,  and M.L.  Jerina. 2013. Effects of added chelated trace minerals, organic selenium yeast culture, direct-fed microbials, and Yucca schidigera extract in horses. Part I: Blood nutrient concentration and digestibility. Journal of Animal Science 91(8):3899-3908.