Sound Horsekeeping Update - May 31, 2018


Howdy folks!

Here is the latest for our manure spreader program:

  • Reserve The Spreader Today!
  • Manure Spreader Program Changes REMINDER
  • New Delivery Driver
  • Benefits of Composting Horse Manure
  • Thanks


We have had a great response with reservations this year, and open dates are going fast. And remember - spreading season goes from mid-April through mid-October, so schedule early! That being said, we do experience cancellations now and then, so please don't hesitate to call and see if there is a closer date for your existing reservation due to a cancellation, or if you need it for the first time. Also, if you have to cancel, please call me as soon as possible, preferably at least a couple of days before so I can get it to someone else. I also have started a list for those who would like to take advantage of any cancellations, so if you would like to be included on that list please email or call me any time.


After reviewing the performance of the Manure Spreader Program for the 2017 season some proposals were put forward and were accepted by the Snohomish Conservation District (SCD) Board of Directors for the 2018 season. These changes are:

Rental Fee

A rental fee of $70 per usage (one week) has been implemented to cover the cost of maintenance and eventual replacement of the manure spreaders. This fee is the same for both the large and small manure spreader.

At the beginning of the program a few years back the program was funded by a grant from the Stilliguamish Clean Water District (SCWD). Since that time the grant has completed and the SCWD has been disbanded. With that being the case, the SCD has had to look at other funding sources to keep the program solvent into the future. The way that was decided to do that was to require a rental fee. Determining the rental fee was difficult because there are no commercial rental businesses renting manure spreaders at this time, so a survey was done of other Districts in Washington to determine a rate. Our new rate is the lowest in the state while still providing enough projected funding to assure the proper maintenance and future replacement cost of the manure spreaders. 

The new fee will be due at drop off or can be paid in advance by calling the office. Donations to the program are also still accepted and appreciated. 


We have a new delivery driver!

A few weeks ago our extensive search for a well qualified delivery driver finally found our new team member - Bonnie Davis of Snohomish! Bonnie is a life-long horsewoman who has towed more trailers with horses and agricultural equipment than you can imagine and backs a trailer better than anyone I've ever seen - including me! She is an active leader and judge in the Snohomish County 4H Horse Program and in her personal life is an equine consultant and body worker. She is also a long time cooperator with the SCD and knows her BMPs, so not only can she deliver and help you get set up with the manure spreader, but she can help you identify the issues and solutions for your equine challenges and connect you with the right services provided by the SCD. 

Welcome Bonnie!


People often ask me why I encourage people to compost horse manure and then spread it on their pasture instead of hauling it all away. Well, for those who have pasture soil that either can take it or needs it (info you get from a FREE soil test!), composting and spreading horse manure has many benefits, including:

Horse Health

  • Reduces flies
    • A well-managed compost pile will reach temperatures high enough to kill fly eggs and larvae in manure.
  • Kills parasites and pathogens
    • The high temperatures achieved through composting also kills pathogens (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa).

Convenience and Aesthetics

  • Reduces odors
    • A well-managed compost pile will be free of the odors often associated with an uncomposted manure pile...and create less complaints from neighbors!
  • Cuts your pile in half
    • Composting reduces bulk and has 40 to 60 percent less volume and weight than uncomposted manure. Who doesn't want that?
  • Kills weed seeds
    • The high temperatures achieved through composting kills most weed seeds.
  • Evens out grazing patterns
    • Horses grazing in pastures spread with composted manure (instead of fresh manure) are more likely to graze normally and are less likely to restrict grazing to areas with the thinnest application rates.

Healthy Soil

  • Improve aeration and water retention
    •  Adding compost to soil builds good soil structure and texture, increasing the amount of air that can infiltrate and the amount of water it can hold.
  • Supply nutrients
    • When fresh manure is spread on a field, about 50 percent of the nitrogen is in highly soluble form and will be washed out by rain when it is spread on pasture. In compost, however, 95 to 97 percent of nitrogen has been converted to a much more stable form and slowly released, allowing plants to use it over a longer period of time.
  • Bacteria, earthworms, and pH
    • Compost also supports essential soil bacteria; feeds earthworms and allows them to multiply; and gradually changes soil pH levels that are either too low (acidic) or too high (alkaline).

The Environment

  • Protect water quality
    • Because the composting process converts nitrogen into a less soluble form, it is less likely to be washed out of manure and into ground water or surface water.
  • Protect fish and shellfish
    • When rain falls on soil rich with compost, raindrops seep into it. When rain falls on packed soil rain runs off the surface, creating erosion and carrying soil particles to nearby waterways. Sediment can smother trout and salmon eggs and make water cloudy, making it more difficult for fish to find insects to eat.
  • Conserve our natural resources
    • Using compost instead of chemical fertilizers can reduce our use of non-renewable resources like natural gas. Approximately 2 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States goes into the manufacturing of nitrogen fertilizer.

So, compost that manure and spread it if you can and you will see that your equine companion is returning your love and care through soil amendment gold! :)

For more information on composting and using horse manure please read "Guide to Composting Horse Manure" by WSU Cooperative Extension.


Thanks to everyone who has been and will be using the manure spreader this year! Your use and support are doing a lot to improve soil health and protect our natural resources, as well as making your pastures better for your horse and you. If you have any questions about the programs or your place on the list please contact me using my contact information below.

Thanks again, and happy spreading!

Michael Hipp

Resource Planner & Equine Specialist

Sound Horsekeeping Program

Snohomish Conservation District

Office: (425) 377-7019