Beginner Gardening Tips. Garden Manure

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All The Different Garden manure:

Are you ready for the filthy facts. Garden manure is excellent for your garden. Well I should say well rotted garden manure is absolutely fantastic for all the plants in your garden. But their are many types of manures and each have a different structure and nutrient analysis. Some different types include:

  • Chicken Manure
  • Cow Manure
  • Sheep Manure
  • Horse Manure
  • rabbit Manure
  • Goat Manure
  • Turkey Manure
  • Pig Manure
  • Human Manure
  • Guano Manure

I’m sure their are many other types available all around the world. The variety of manure you use in your garden will depend on several factors. These are:

  • Where you live.
  • What your preferences are.
  • what NPK ratio you plant or soil type will need.

In this particular article I am going to discuss the varieties of garden manure that are most available and most popular around the world. These are:

  • Cow
  • Horse
  • Sheep
  • Chicken
  • Guano


Cow manure has a low nutrient analysis because it mainly comes from animals that grass on grass or grain, or a combination of both. It is a fantastic ingredient to use in the garden because it helps to condition the soil by providing humus to the soil structure.

The manure, or dung, from cows and cattle is high in organic materials and rich in nutrients. However, you will need to make sure the dung is well and truly rotted and not fresh.

The NPK levels of Cow manure is approximately:

N: 0.6%

P: 0.4%

K: 0.5 %

Making it an excellent fertilizer for those plants with a phosphorus intolerance.

These NPK Levels will depend on the variety of grasses and grains that are consumed by the cattle, and may vary with different herds on different diets.

I love to use this type of ingredient mixed in with other manures for my garden beds.


Another fantastic garden manure that’s excellent to use in flower and vegetable gardens and around trees and shrubs, is horse manure. Very similar to cow manure, but slightly lower in phosphorus and usually slightly higher in the other nutrient levels, this is another fantastic ingredient to use in the mix.

Once again, this manure is high in organic matter and will benefit the soil it is applied to, adding both humus and nutrients. You will also need to make sure you purchase and use only well rotted manures.

I prefer to purchase my horse manure from stables that feed their animals with organic produce such as grass, hay and grains, and don’t use any sort of chemical sprays or antibiotics.

The alternative to stable manure would be to use paddock manure. However, I try to avoid any humus collected from paddocks, as most of the nutrients will be leached out by a combination of sun and rain.

The NPK for this type of garden manure is:

N: 0.7

P: 0.3

K: 0.6

Remember that these figures are only an average, and will depend on exactly what sort of feed or pasture the horses are raised on.


Sheep manure (and goat) is the equivalent in nature to pelletized fertilizer. This manure comes prepackaged in an incredible pellet form ready to spread around your plants. I was told many years back by an old gardener, that you should always try to source sheep manure that came from under or around the shearing sheds, as it was the least exposed to the weather.

This type of garden manure is ideal for flowering plants and vegetables, as it is packed with potassium. Potassium assists plant growth and helps strengthen them against disease. It also aids plants in water use and drought resistance. It’s the ideal manure to use around rose bushes.

The NPK Ratio’s for this manure is:


N: 0.7

P: 0.3

K: 0.9

Sheep manure is also ideal as an organic style mulch. It has very little odor, and acts like a slow release fertilizer. However, I prefer to cover the manure with a light layer of another mulch such as straw. By doing this you are slowing down the loss of nutrients from rain and sun. The nutrients that are released are more likely to penetrate the soil and thereby benefit your plants.


Of all the garden manure available, this is the most interesting one. The Nitrogen level in Chicken manure is so high when fresh, that it must never be used on your garden in this condition as it will burn the plants.

This is one natural fertilizer that should always be well composted before use. Make sure that the product you purchase has been aged for at least six months.

However, just like the other garden manures mentioned, chicken manure is excellent as a soil conditioner. When incorporated into your soil structure it will increase beneficial microbial activity, as well as attract worms that will help break down the humus, and add it into the soil structure.

The following are the NPK ratio’s for Chicken Manure.

N: 1.1

P: 0.8

K: 0.5

The Phosphorus levels for Chicken manure are also fairly high. When using this product on your garden, make sure you avoid placing it around plant or trees that have a phosphorus intolerance.

Just one more word on Chicken manure. NEVER purchase fresh manure and store it on your property, in particular small properties. You will definitely upset neighbors and, in some areas, local councils. The manure has a terrible odor when fresh. I have a friend who purchased a truck load and piled it on a remote corner of his one hundred plus acre property. It wasn’t long before he received complaints from his neighbors and a visit from council officers.


I’m sure some of you have been wondering what on earth Guano manure is and why I have added it to this list. Wikipedia describes it as the following:

Guano (from Quechua “wani” via Spanish) is the accumulated excrement of seabirds, seals, or cave-dwelling bats. As a manure, guano is a highly effective fertilizer due to its exceptionally high content of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium: nutrients essential for plant growth.

This type of natural fertilizer has become very popular with organic gardeners because it contains high levels of slow- and fast-release nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as usable levels of micro nutrients.

Guano is probably not a fertilizer you will use on your average garden bed, and is probably not as easily obtainable as other manures, however I found it interesting enough to include here just for some ‘fun facts’.

The NPK levels for Guano manure varies according to it’s source, therefore those ratios mentioned below are an average only:

N: 10

P: 8

K: 2

The percentage of NPK can differ somewhat between Bat Guano ( which is lower) and bird Guano. This manure also contains a number of other micro nutrients.

You can see by the figures shown above,just how rich this fertilizer is and why it is considered so valuable by organic farmers.


This article only touches on the edge of the vast amount of garden manures available. However, I have tried to keep it simple for the beginner gardener. As I have stated above, make sure any manures you purchase are from reliable sources and well composted or rotted. In particular chicken manure, which not only smells bad when fresh but will burn and damage your plants.

The one thing I like to do with all these manures is to utilize as many as are available. Personally, I like to mix the ingredients as I find this far more beneficial to the soil. Depending on which manures are available in my area, I construct a mix at a ratio of one shovel of Chicken manure to two shovels of other manures (not using Guano).

If you utilize these manures at the mix suggested, and cover them with a layer of straw or other straw like material, your soil will become rich and your plants will benefit. I would also suggest that you do this once a year in early spring or when the soil temperature starts to rise.

Now you have no excuse not to start building up your gardens health. Get out the shovel, spade, rake and Wheelbarrow and start spreading that manure.

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I would appreciate it if you could leave any comments you might like to make in the section provided below.

Happy Gardening. Jim

Jim Kulk


  1. Jim, this is awesome. I am embarking on a farming project where we plan to raise both livestock and produce. We will have multitudes of manure producers, and having a better idea of where to put that manure is very helpful.

    With our pasture raised model, most of the manure is spread naturally across the landscape, but in the spring there will be surplus that needs to be put in the right places.

    I look forward to more of your posts, and hope to create a garden as amazing as yours.

    Thanks for this,

  2. Really informative! I thought that there was just one type of fertiliser. Now I know that there are many. Thank you.

  3. Great insight on these fertilizers. I grew up using cow manure from around the barn, so I was familiar with it. The others not so much. I certainly need to work on the soil in my garden; it must be seriously depleted of nutrients because nothing grows well except weeds.
    Keep on sharing and informing. Great site.

    • Thanks Jeff. Sometimes when a soil is nutrient deficient it may require trace elements. I will be including a post on this in the near future. Jim

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