The spectrum of manures used around the world ranges from bat guano to human waste. Some are ‘hot’ manures rich in nitrogen from urea such as chicken or goose. Those require a little care when applied to avoid ‘scorching’ tender roots. Others are ‘cooler’, such as cow, sheep and horse, especially as these are generally mixed with bedding material which is best composted first. Dog and cat manures may feed disease so should be got away. Manures are not a homogenous product.
HORSE: In total affluent in supply and makes a simply wonderful soil conditioner. Fresh, it cultivates mythical cucurbits and well-rotted it converts almost any soil into a rich crumbly dark brown. It Is not the highest in nutrients but contains a good amount of nitrogen and respectable levels of phosphates and potash in a good balance. Needs longer to compost if it is mixed with wood shavings and can contain rather a lot of weed seeds but again, composting will deal with this. N-0.7% P-0.4% K-0.6%
COW: An excellent manure but with a comparatively low total nutrient level, particularly in phosphates, it does, nonetheless, make a soil conditioner that is great once composted, adding plenty of organic mass to enhance moisture and texture retention. It really is also normally weed seed free as cows magnificently have four stomachs. N-0.6% P-0.2% K-0.5%
SHEEP/GOAT: Very helpfull in the garden. A milder, drier muck that doesn’t scorch plants, it is high in nitrogen and potash. The problem is likely to be that, as sheep are grazed in the open, it may be a case of picking up dispersed droppings; however, it makes a great top dressing for tomato plants and will almost certainly be free. It can have a few weed seeds but can be composted to overcome this if needed. N-0.7% P-0.3% K-0.9%
PET MANURE: The contents of your rabbit hutch, guinea pig house and gerbil cage should go on your compost heap as activators. Rabbit manure is nutrient rich, beating oven poultry manures. This waste also often includes useful sources of carbon for the compost heap in the form of hay or newspaper and often soaked in nitrogen rich urine so don’t leave this stuff out, just shred it up a little. N-2.4% P-1.4% K-0.6% for rabbit.
CHICKEN/POULTRY: Chicken manure is commonly sold in pelleted form and can be a great fertiliser for non-ericaceous plants (i.e. don’t use on your blueberries). It has generally the highest nitrogen level for manure, plus phosphates and usable quantities of other important nutrients as well so is good for leafy crops and brassicas. It is slow to release its nutrients so it must be added to the soil in plenty of time, ideally the winter before planting as it will begin to give up its generosity once the soil warms in spring. Use 150grams per m2. If this is the only manure fertiliser you use fruiting plants will advantage from additional potassium. Fresh poultry manure in bedding material in the coop may also be used as a top dressing in spring for blackcurrants, plum trees and leafy veg or used as an activator for your compost heap switching a 5cm (2in) layer with other compost ingredients. N-1.6% P-1.6% K-1.7%