Horses make a lot of manure. Conceptually, we knew this. Various state university extensions (PSU, MSU) peg horse manure production around 31 to 50 pounds per day for a 1,000 to 1,100 lb horse. We only have two horses. One around 1,250 lbs and the other around 1,700. That means we have 100+ lbs of horse manure to manage every day.
Once winter came, we realized our original plan of dragging and composting wasn’t going to cut it. In January/February, our compost bins (three bins, each 4x4x4) were overflowing. While some composting can happen in the winter, it wasn’t enough to keep up with the constant flow of new manure.
ABI Manure Spreader
A manure spreader makes manure management easy. Simply load it up, pull it, and watch your manure be spread into a thin layer that composts quickly. This provides nutrients to the soil and minimizes the hazards of stockpiling manure, the work of turning it, and the wait time.
ABI makes small manure spreaders capable of being towed behind a side-by-side, gator, or ATV. They come in 25, 50, and 65 cu/ft sizes. We got the 50, and even with only two horses, we couldn’t imagine getting the smaller one.
ABI Manure Spreader Prices
As of writing this, ABI’s manure spreaders start around $3800 and go up to $5300. You’ll find this is more expensive than you’ll find at farm stores, but this is a heavy-duty, long-lasting piece of equipment. The build quality is excellent. Although we’ve only had it for a few months, we haven’t had any issues with it and it seems like it will hold up for years and years.
The price difference is minimal between the 25 and 50 cu/ft sizes, so it’s hard to imagine a reason other than storage or maneuverability to get the 25 cu/ft size.
How We Use It
We keep the manure spreader in the aisle of our barn. Our horses have access to their stalls, but are not stalled overnight. Keeping the spreader in the barn makes quick work of mucking out what’s in the stalls and emptying the buckets directly into the spreader.
Then, we spread it over the pastures. Even with a full load, it takes only a few minutes to have the entire load spread out the back – even at the ‘slowest’ setting. It makes the manure virtually disappear.
Manure Spreader Accessories
We opted to get the two accessories that come with the ABI manure spreader. The first is the manual end gate. This helps keep any manure from falling out of the back when you’re filling the spreader. It also helps reduce the number of projectiles that inevitably come shooting toward the operator as part of the spreading process.
We have small stones that sometimes get mixed in the manure, and while it’s no problem for the spreader, we have had a few shoot forward and donk us on the head. The rocks are small, so it was more of a surprise than a potential problem.
The other is called a ‘Fines Pan’ that catches some of the finer material from the bottom so it doesn’t just fall off the end. This is usually recommended for spreading different types of manure, like chicken manure, but we went for this option so that we’d get the evenest spread possible.
Overall, we’re quite satisfied with our spreader and our interactions with the company.