Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

I have a vague memory of reading that we don't want straight manure or compost with manure if it comes from steer. Cow manure is okay but steer is not? Can anybody comment? My large scale source of organic composts has put steer manure in most of their varieties.

Thanks

Saylorsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

I have no idea why one prefers cow versus steer manure unless it has to do with what each animal might have been fed. You say your source is organic so that should not be an issue. The important thing is that any manure from cow or steer be composted before being applied or it will burn your plants.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Absolutely. Just wish I could find the whatever-it-is that I once read, so we could have a detailed conversation. I appreciate your thoughts, though, so perhaps I can be less worried.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm sorry, but that makes not sense at all. No offence to you, 13Turtles, as I know you are trying to make sense of something you read or heard some time ago. I often have the same problem so I don't want you to feel I am in any way slighting you.

Steers are basically eating and pooping machines. They are there to put on weight, and we know where that will end... I could see not wanting manure from a feed lot. But well composted steer poo from another source would be fine IMHO. I'm sure whoever is composting all of this cattle poo for the organic manure sellers is not making separate piles for just the cows and then another pile just for the steers. And maybe a third pile for just the bulls? LOL! I grew up cleaning out horse stalls (many, many years of many, many stalls) and now clean my goat stalls. When one is shoveling poo and dirty bedding, neat and separate piles are not a first concern.

I'm thinking of the guys (and gals--but I was usually the only gal who shoveled manure then) I grew up with in 4-H and FFA who shoveled and bob-catted their own manure. Some of them are still in the dairy cattle business. I will e-mail the couple I am still in touch with and see if they have heard of or know of such a thing. You might also contact your local co-operative extension agent office. Someone there may know???

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I stay away from manure produced off our place because I don't know what medications the animals may have been treated with. With horses there are frequent dosings with products for worms as well as other problems. I'm not sure about cattle. And I'd wonder what "organic" means in that context.

We feed our chickens organic pellets and don't use any medications so I feel comfortable using their manure, although we do compost it first.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

A lot of my composted manure goes to the roses. They don't mind a little worming meds. Maybe that will honk off the Japanese Beetles? One can always hope!

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I wouldn't mind using it around ornamentals either. But a lot of my ornamentals are close enough to my potager that I have to be careful.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

It is the opposite here. We avoid Dairy manure (cow manure) because tends to be higher in salts, and our soil is already higher in salt than it should be.
I suppose steer manure is more likely to come from a feedlot, and a feedlot is more likely to medicate the animals to keep them healthy in crowded conditions.
But pasture fed either cows or steers could also have been on grass treated with a broad-leaf weed killer.
Biggest misuse of pesticides is on lawns of private homes, so know where your grass clippings came from, too!

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

We save our own grass clippings for our compost heap. We don't use any others!

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Yah, me too on the grass.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

I think anyone who looked through my grass clippings would be positive we do not use "weed and feed" LOL! We use them anyway for our blueberry and blackberry beds. But we throw down weed block first to try and stop the "grass" clippings from taking root. We are lucky in that we have plentiful sources of home grown poop for our compost pile. Goat poop, cow poop, chicken/peacock poop....And oak leaves, "grass" clippings, kitchen leavings, hay....all of it ends up in the pile. Half the cattle on our property are steers. No way to tell which pile of poop is from a steer, cow, or the occasional bull. Sorry, but if you are familiar with the field from which the poop care from, and the treatment of the cattle, then I really wouldn't worry about which beast this poop came from.

Grants Pass, OR(Zone 8a)

Just a thought on this thread. I avoid manure from any but the smaller dairies as well as feed lots. Many dairies feed a lot of antibiotics as well as hormones to up the milk production. My biggest concern of course is contaminants in the grain that is fed.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

You both make sense.if I had complete control like you terry, I wouldn't worry either, but given that I don't, I'm just trying to avoid it all. My composting yields almost nothing. I have no deciduous trees, and I live in Weed'n'Feedtown, so there's NO way I'm going to collect neighbors' leaves or clippings. Sigh. No poop, no leaves, just a WHOLE lot of used tea leaves. Lol.
Thanks for your thoughts.

Grants Pass, OR(Zone 8a)

13 Turtles, I am thinking that there must be someone in your area doing commercial compost production. That being said, organic compost is always harder to find. A company called Rexius used to sell organic compost as well as their regular landscaping products. They Were out of Portland but had a lot in Eugene also. I don't know if they are still there.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Thanks ORBlueMoon, we do still have Rexius and Lane Forest Products. We use the latter, but they can't guarantee the contents. And their is manure in it. Maybe I will check with Rexius again. Still, I do have good results, so until I learn something scary I will keep going with them.
Thanks for taking the time to respond. :~)
Turtle

Grants Pass, OR(Zone 8a)

Turtle, In my opinion, even non organic compost is still going to give you healthier plants and better nutrition than buying produce from commercial farms via the grocery store. Have you thought about using redworms to compost the small amount of material you have? I switched to worm composting a few years ago when I just didn't have enough material to make a big enough pile to get hot enough to compost in a shorter time. Compost was difficult to find in the desert so this worked out quite well for us. Also, once the worm population built up I could compost between a half and a full wheelbarrow full of material in 2 to 3 weeks. My bin was 3'x3'x1'. Since moving to Oregon I haven't established a bin yet but it is in the plans.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Ooh, thanks for that info! Do you set them up indoors or out? I'm wary of the 'convincing' I'm going to have to do, lol.

Grants Pass, OR(Zone 8a)

I have always done outdoor worm bins. I have seen the little indoor ones and even talked to a few people that have done that but I don't like the potential bug and fly attraction to the scraps being composted. Also, with a larger outdoor bin if you have something icky or smelly you can bury it in the bin. The biggest plus is that worm castings are compost with the "Super Duper" setting on Max.

Lance

Saylorsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

I love worm castings. The best thing about them is they don't burn the plants and a little goes a long way/ I don't make my own because we are in and out so much and they do need to be fed consistently. But my local hydroponics store has a 30 lb bag for a reasonable price so I get it there.
I do straw bale gardening and find that the worms just love that stuff. I find tons of them every spring in the old bales that are decomposing. That is the extent of my vermiculture!

Grants Pass, OR(Zone 8a)

Straw bale vermiculture... I like it. It would work fantastic for redworms. Manure mixed with straw or old hay is premium redworm feed. I will admit, I'm particular to the little red wigglers. Even though they are smaller, redworms will consume 5 to 10 times the organic material that night crawlers or regular earthworms will.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

My greatgrandfather taught me to set up a "worm farm". He dug a hole in a shady spot in the yard. He lined the bottom with ripped up newspapers, then layered in some dirt and kitchen scraps (no meat, just veggie stuff). Then a layer of leaves. He just threw in worms he found along the way (lots of good worms in Illinois). Keep adding to the hole every few days until it is mounded up a bit. The worms take care of themselves in the winter, just put some tree branches or cardboard over the top to give some insulation. His advice was lots of watermelon rinds. He said that made the best fishing worms. (He and I were fishing buddies). If you have dogs just put some planks with a few bricks on top to keep them out of the hole. Once the pile started to level off he would "harvest" the worms and dig out the compost for his garden. Or he would just dig the hole in situ between rose bushes or right in the middle of a veg bed. Make sure the hole gets some water and doesn't completely dry out--not drenched but the moisture level your garden would require. Then dig out some of the worms for fishing and leave the rest. He was in his nineties way back in the 60's when he taught me this (I did my best to eat as many watermelon and cantaloupe as possible for the cause) and he came from a long line of German farmers. Sweet corn cobs are also popular with the worms. You have to make sure that the top layer (as you go along) is a good few inches of dirt so as to keep the flies out. He said you were doing it wrong if flies show up.

I have used this technique often down through the years and it works well. You just have to work it out with your dogs (have some planks of the right length and some heavy bricks or other creative techniques--not to throw at the dogs but to put on top to keep them from digging LOL).

I've resigned myself to having to order up some worms from the internet for this garden here in the middle of a former hay field in NE Texas. It has been almost seven years and still no worms. The former owner was ridiculously generous with the weed killers, etc. Even the neighbor were kind of appalled. Further proof that monoculture is not a good thing.

Grants Pass, OR(Zone 8a)

Terri, What a great example of backyard ingenuity. Sorry to hear about your wormless soil. I wonder if adding both redworms and night crawlers might be beneficial in such a situation. I think the redworms would populate fast and really start working the upper soil. What I like about night crawlers is that they like to dig into the deep subsoil thereby creating air and water channels a couple of feet down into the soil.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I have heard that the red wigglers aren't winter hardy here.
I go around after rain storms and pick up worms off other folks concrete driveways. Neighbors probably think I'm eccentric, maybe crazy. But I have noticeably increased worms in my veggie garden!

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

I read and article in a local farm newspaper about a farmer west of here who bought new-to-him land and had my same problem (no worms). He started bringing in red wrigglers and they went forth an multiplied. So I think I will be doing the same starting this fall. Oregonbluemoon, I'm pretty sure my greatgrandfather's technique is an old German one as his people were all second generation German. All farmers.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

My Mother has German ancestry. She never built a compost pile, she always took yesterdays kitchen scraps and buried them directly in the garden. She called it " feeding the worms" - similar to terri's grgrandfather, above. Larger amounts of stuff (spring & fall cleanup) went into the chicken pen, then into the garden.
I am seriously considering going back to Mom's method & only building a compost pile once or twice a year, and putting smaller amounts of stuff direct into the garden. She had rows and dug in the paths, I have beds and would have to set aside an rotation for "green manure" and dig it in there. As a kid we always had a lot of potato peelings - I think I will leave those out because I have had a some trouble with soil diseases in my tomatoes.

Grants Pass, OR(Zone 8a)

Pollengarden, Red wigglers can survive down to 0 pretty easily if they have at least 1 ft of bed depth and hay or straw mounded up. Our trick has been to feed them with a good batch of whatever your using and add a pile of fairly fresh "hot" manure on top. The worms will stay just below the Too Hot zone. I also had good success in Utah's cold winters just by putting the worms in a large compost pile. Keep the material moist but not wet. How deep is your frost line?

Terri, I am 5th to 6th generation German farmer myself, depending on which parent I choose to use. The red wiggler thing really does help restore land. The 8 acres that my father raised redworms on in Lorane Oregon had less than 1 inch of topsoil on top of clay so hard that with a pick you could barely chip it out to make a hole. After 5 years of having worm bins we had 4 to 5 inches of topsoil and the clay was diggable down another 6 to 8 inches. The meadow grasses went from 12 to 16 inches tall to 3 or 4 feet tall. We did not cultivate or add anything to the soil.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

Oregon....I'm checking out places to order the little darlings for fall now.

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