Mud, Manure and Winterizing Your Horse Property

Horses are wonderful members of the family, and they can be messy. Did you know a horse can produce fifty pounds of manure a day? Mountains of manure can build up quickly and with Pacific Northwest long rainy seasons. All of that wet manure then quickly turns into mud, which may cause injuries, make hooves soft and more susceptible to diseases, and also will leach manure toxins into the groundwater supply.

On a sunset-saturated evening in Enumclaw back in November of 2019, Alayne Blickle of Horses for Clean Water kicked off a weekend of workshops focused on taking care of your horse property and how conservation districts can help. Co-sponsored by King Conservation District (KCD) and Pierce Conservation District (PCD) with Spanish interpreters available, Alayne walked participants through the necessary elements of winterizing a horse property.

Here are her five tips for preparing your horse property for winter:

  1. Establish a sacrifice area.
  2. Pick up manure regularly.
  3. Use footing in confinement and high traffic areas.
  4. Install gutters and downspouts on all buildings.
  5. Divert/manage surface flows.

The following day, participants got to see Alayne’s tips in action at Trinity Ranch. Owners Susan and Bryan Heiser have been working with KCD since 2012 when KCD staff worked with them to develop a KCD Farm Conservation Plan. The plan included conservation practices such as installing manure bins, heavy use areas, sub-surface drainage and cross-fencing. Additionally, they worked with KCD to install a stream crossing over Coal Creek, which flows through Trinity Ranch. Much of this work has been done with cost-share funding from KCD, King County and Washington Conservation Commission.

Also, the Heisers worked with KCD’s Washington Conservation Corps Crews to install a riparian forest buffer along Coal Creek. This will help filter surfacewater running to the creek and reduce more pollutants from eventually entering Puget Sound many miles downstream in the Green-Duwamish watershed.

Now is the time to wrap up those projects before the fall and winter rain returns! If you have questions, please reach out to KCD Resource Planners for technical assistance. Many times, a brief phone call or e-mail conversation is all that is needed to get started.

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