Cleaning a Pasture
How to Quickly Vacuum Horse Manure
These days, the farm isn't as far away as people might think it is. It's become common to see the outer edges of the suburbs reach right up to the fields where livestock and horses graze.
But you don't have to have neighbors close by to appreciate the importance of a clean pasture.
Cleaning horse and livestock manure out of a pasture isn't an enjoyable task, but it is a necessary one. Luckily for owners of small and large farms alike, there are tools like pasture vacuums to make the job easier.
Why Clean Manure Out of Your Pasture
Manure is the waste produced by horses and livestock animals such as cows, sheep, and alpaca. Cleaning it up isn't just a matter of making your property smell better, although it certainly helps with that.
Ridding your pasture of manure also benefits health and wellbeing:
- Animal health
- Human health
- Health of the environment
- Health of your own pasture
When manure is left to sit, it starts to attract flies, worms, and other parasites. Flies can bite your pasture animals and transmit diseases. Worms and parasites can disrupt the animals' digestive systems if ingested, and there's a strong chance of them being ingested if manure is left where your animals graze.
Furthermore, manure also can harm human health if the nitrogen it contains seeps into groundwater. Many communities depend on groundwater for drinking water. However, high concentrations of nitrogen in drinking water have been linked to cancer and to blood having a lower oxygen-carrying capacity.
Manure also contains phosphorus, which, if it ends up in rivers and streams, might lead to excessive growth of algae that can cause the size of local fish populations to shrink.
It's not only the environment at large that should make manure a concern, either. Horses and cows have been shown to avoid areas of pastures tainted by excess manure. This can lead to overgrazing and trampling of other parts of your pasture.
Taken together, all of these details should convince you that cleaning up manure is one of the best chores you can do to keep your pasture healthy.
The good news? You no longer have to depend on a rake or shovel to do it.
Tips for Using a Tow-Behind Pasture Vacuum
A tow-behind manure vacuum makes picking up manure easy. You simply attach the vacuum to any of the other kinds of vehicles you might use to take care of your land:
- Lawn tractor
- Garden tractor
- All-terrain vehicle (ATV)
- Utility vehicle
Always check the weight limit or recommended towing capacity of your vehicle. Because of the heavy weight of pasture vacuums, they are not recommended for zero turn lawn mowers.
A detachable vacuum hose (sold separately on some models) will allow you to target your vacuuming efforts. Most models feature an aluminum collection hopper that won't rust but that will have a lever to make tipping and emptying the hopper easier.
You might find it easier to vacuum manure off of flat, level ground than off of hills. Be prepared to spend extra time passing your vacuum over the ground if your terrain is uneven.
Finally, even though a detachable hose might provide you with extra reach, you should not bring the engine-powered vacuum itself inside of a barn or a stable. Never operate gas-powered machinery indoors, even with open windows and doors. Deadly carbon monoxide can build up in enclosed spaces, so keep it in the pasture.
Vacuuming your pasture at least twice a week will help keep it fresh and clean, make your animals happy and healthy, and even provide you with a money-making side venture - livestock manure is valuable compost material, after all!
Those are benefits that you and your neighbors will be able to appreciate.
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