How to Use Goat Droppings as Fertilizer

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goat droppings as manure

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For many gardeners and homesteaders, organic solutions are at the heart of cultivating healthy, vibrant gardens. Among the natural treasures available, goat manure often gets overlooked. Yet, these “droppings” hold a wealth of potential as a potent and sustainable fertilizer.

This article explores the benefits, limitations, and best practices for using goat manure in your garden. Through informed usage, you can unlock the power of this natural resource, nourishing your plants and contributing to a closed-loop, eco-friendly approach to gardening.

A Nutritional Powerhouse

goat droppings as manure

Unlike their cow and horse counterparts, goat droppings boast several unique advantages:

  • High Nitrogen Content: Nitrogen is crucial for plant growth, promoting healthy foliage and vibrant green color. Goat manure packs a higher nitrogen punch than other manures, offering a readily available source for your plants.
  • Weed Seed-Free: Goats possess a digestive system that effectively destroys most weed seeds, minimizing the risk of introducing unwanted hitchhikers into your garden.
  • Faster Decomposition: Due to their smaller size and lower moisture content, goat droppings decompose faster than other manures, making them readily available to plants.
  • Odorless and Pelletized: Compared to other animal manures, goat manure generally exhibits less odor and tends to be drier and pelletized, making it easier to handle and store.
  • Rich in Micronutrients: Beyond nitrogen, goat manure contains essential micronutrients like potassium, phosphorus, and calcium, contributing to overall plant health and resilience.

However, it’s important to remember that goat manure, like any fertilizer, needs to be used responsibly.

Proper Composting

Fresh goat manure contains high levels of ammonia, which can harm plants. Therefore, composting is crucial to unlock its benefits safely. Composting breaks down organic matter, converting it into a nutrient-rich, stable amendment suitable for your garden.

Here’s a simplified composting process:

  1. Gather your materials: Collect goat manure, along with carbon-rich materials like leaves, straw, or shredded cardboard. Maintain a 3:1 ratio of carbon-rich materials to manure.
  2. Build your pile: Ensure proper aeration by creating a loose, well-aerated pile. Moisten the pile lightly and turn it regularly (every week or two) to promote consistent decomposition.
  3. Patience is key: Allow the composting process to occur for at least 3-4 months, reaching an internal temperature of 130°F to 160°F. When the manure appears dark, crumbly, and odorless, it’s ready for your garden!

You can read our comprehensive guide on composting here.

Goat Manure Tea

Goat manure tea isn’t brewed leaves but a nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer created by soaking composted goat manure in water. It delivers a milder dose of nutrients than direct composting, making it ideal for foliar feeding or a mid-season plant boost! Think of it as a potent, natural plant tonic.

To make manure tea:

a. Fill a burlap or mesh bag with goat droppings. 

b. Submerge the bag in a container of water, ensuring the manure is fully covered. 

c. Allow the manure to steep for a few days, stirring occasionally. d. Dilute the resulting tea with water before applying it to your plants.

Manure tea is an excellent option for providing a quick nutrient boost to your garden.

Guidelines for Garden Use

organic gardening with goat manure

For gardeners looking for a straightforward approach, goat droppings can be applied directly to the soil. However, using well-aged or composted manure is critical to avoid potential issues with pathogens or excessive nitrogen.

Composted goat manure has several garden applications:

  • Soil Amendment: Spread aged manure evenly over your garden bed and lightly incorporate it into the top few inches of soil before planting. Start with moderate amounts, around 1-2 pounds per square foot, and adjust based on your soil quality and specific plant needs.
  • Topdressing: Apply a thin layer of composted manure around established plants as a topdressing to provide a sustained nutrient boost throughout the growing season.
  • Container Gardening: Mix aged manure with your regular potting mix for container plants, ensuring proper drainage. Start with a 10-20% ratio of manure and monitor plant health for adjustments.
  • Seed Starting: Avoid using fresh or uncomposted manure for seed starting as it can be too concentrated and harm delicate seedlings. Opt for aged manure mixed with your starting mix in moderation.

Cautions and Considerations:

  • Testing: Before applying manure, test your soil to determine its nutrient levels and avoid over-fertilization.
  • Timing matters: Apply manure well before planting or during the early growing season to allow nutrients to break down and become available to plants.
  • Monitor your plants: Observe your plants for signs of nutrient overload, such as excessive leaf burn or rapid, weak growth. Adjust application rates accordingly.
  • Know your source: If purchasing manure, ensure it comes from a reputable source that practices proper animal care and hygiene.

Beyond the Garden

The value of goat manure extends beyond your garden. Consider these additional uses:

  • Vermicomposting: Goat manure can be a valuable food source for composting worms, further enhancing its nutrient content and creating rich worm castings.
  • Weed Suppression: Aged manure can act as a mulch, suppressing weeds while enriching the soil beneath.
  • Fuel Source: In some regions, dried goat manure can be used as a renewable fuel source for biomass stoves or biogas digesters.

Conclusion

Harnessing the power of goat droppings as organic fertilizer is a sustainable and environmentally friendly way to enhance soil fertility and promote healthy plant growth. 

By composting, creating manure tea, or directly applying well-aged goat manure, gardeners and homesteaders can unlock the full potential of this natural resource. 

  • Clara Rosedale

    Clara is a renowned gardening writer and environmental advocate known for her insightful articles on sustainable living and organic gardening practices. With a background in horticulture and a passion for eco-friendly living, Clara's expertise and engaging writing style have made her a trusted voice in the gardening community, inspiring many to embrace a greener, more mindful way of life.

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