Well this may end up being an interesting topic as we delve into waste management. On the other hand, it may just stink plain and simple.
I am not going to cover the actual disposal as this is not too hard to figure out. Manure should be spread back onto fields, crops, pasture, or used in the garden.
I am assuming a homestead or small scale farm. The most often utilized management system is likely to be a manure pack. I this system, bedding is spread out and then the animals eliminate on it. As the amount of manure increases, more bedding is added. I think of it basically as a compost pile. Joel Salatin, who runs Polyface Farm (I believe is the name of his farm) has a great idea for aerating the manure pack. He suggests putting down grain, preferably corn, underneath the first layer of straw. Then Cows are placed into the barn and allowed to build up a manure pack. Once the manure pack/ compost pile is built up, Joel places pigs into the barn. Apparently, the pigs can smell the corn and will root through the manure pack to eat the corn. This turns the manure pack over, which effectively aerates the “compost pile.”
What I have done this year is first applied straw for bedding. Our cows promptly ate the straw. So we basically had a very thin bedding layer of straw. Since it was Autumn, we added some leaves. We found that we had to strategically place straw where the cows would stand as they eat. This allowed the manure to fall onto the straw, starting a straw/ manure pack. The straw and leaves formed the base of the compost pile concept. As the manure built up, we slowly added more straw to the top of the manure. I recently spent some time with a manure shovel and turned the pack by hand. This was some backbreaking (or at least mildly back injuring) work.
I then spread some more straw out to form the beginning of the next layer. I had actually placed straw down prior to turning the pile, which allowed the manure to go on top of the straw once again. I spread it out more around the barn to form a larger manure pack in the majority of the barn. With a concrete floor, our barn has very poor footing without the manure pack. Our cows are spending the majority of their time out in the lush grass right now, but we will need to bring them into the barn soon to either calve or to assess the calves once they are born. More on that to follow I am sure.
So this is the strategy thus far. Eventually we will need to spread the manure/ compost out onto the fields of pastures. We are relying on this to provide the bulk of our fertilizer. However, we will not have enough from only three cows and their calves.
We also plan to purchase some organic fertilizer to apply to the fields after our first cutting this year. Of course, we hope to get soil samples taken as well, but time seems to be getting away from us.