How to Find Free Garden Manure

Find Free Garden Manure

It takes more than compost to create amazing soil.

Manure is an amazing fertilizer and often overlooked.  I can quickly say to never skip this ingredient even if this means you don’t have access to it.

Many gardeners add manure by purchasing in bags from the nursery; that can get expensive over time. Wouldn’t it be great if you could find it for free?

Finding garden manure is a lot easier than you might think.  By putting forward a little effort and getting out of the comfort zone you can definitely succeed finding manure without breaking the bank.

Most Common Types of Manure

Some of the most common types of manure are chicken, goat and sheep.  This manure can be found on small farms sometimes not too far from the city and suburbs.

You may even have a friend currently raising at least one type of these animals; I can only assume they would be happy to share some additional manure.  I share all the time!

I also chat about additional fertilizer tips in my book Startle Garden, which also includes helpful tips for implementing an amending schedule.  Your garden can succeed every growing season if you never fail to amend.

Cow Patties for Fertilizer

In the early stages of our farm we raised Dexter Cows, this is a small cattle breed and there was always an abundance of cow patties.

Cows in general are very common animals on pastures with 10 acres or more; most people raise them for the purpose of meat and milk.

Remember these patties make a better fertilizer tea because they can contain seeds that will leave behind weeds in the garden.  By making a tea you can get the benefits of the fertilizer without the added work later on.

Llama Manure Fertilizer

Llama manure is my favorite, this is Gypsy and she’s amazing; we use her to protect our sheep.  All llamas go to the bathroom in a pile which makes it easy to gather and use their pellets.

A drive further into the country to find llama owners may be necessary to find this option, these animals are mainly used for guarding and fiber.

Things to Understand

  • It takes more than your everyday compost to create amazing soil.
  • A combination of ingredients is always best to optimize your results.

Each fertilizer offers a different benefit, for that reason I like to add manure during the fall and winter months, weeks and sometimes even months prior to planting season.

Pony and horse manure also helps to improve the value of your soil.  This fertilizer is probably one of the easiest to track down, simply find a boarding or training facility for availability. Keep in mind when calling larger facilities you may have to speak to their barn manager.

How to find Manure for Free?

I do understand that not everyone has the opportunity to raise their own farm animals.  I’ve put together this list of ideas for tracking down free manure that work by simply picking up the phone or attending a few events.

  • The Farmer’s Market – anybody selling meat, eggs, or fiber has animals.
  • Look in the yellow pages and see if you can track down your local farmers/ranchers.
  • Find Homestead bloggers online in your area.  (They’re everywhere)
  • Check with existing neighbors who raise farm animals.
  • Horses stables – excellent resource and always have abundance -many just dump in field piles.
  • Local feed stores may have possible contacts.
  • Stock Yards and Rodeos.
  • Cowboy Churches.
  • Check Craigslist.

Making the Contact

Many of these ideas involve active communication.  If you’re face to face a good way to start this type of conversation is to ask, “if they have a garden” This simple question puts you both on the same page that can lead you to asking about animal manure.

I prefer more of a direct approach just remember the worst they can do is say no.  If they say no, then ask for a referral.  If they’re not willing to pass along a contact number you can give them your information if you feel comfortable doing so.

When you pick up the phone just get straight to the point by asking, “Hello, I’m ______, _______gave me your contact information and I was wondering if you have any animal manure I could use in my garden?”  The conversation will build from there.

Bucket, Shovel, and Boots

Always have at least one 5 gallon bucket with a lid, a shovel and boots if you’re going to someone’s land for free manure and never go alone unless you know the people.

Expect to go into the pasture for gathering manure and never enter a pasture unaccompanied where there are animals.  All types of animals can be suspicious of newbie’s in their pasture if the owner isn’t standing nearby.

How to find free garden manure really isn’t that difficult, it simply takes a little time and implementing a concept for thinking outside the box and sometimes you’ll meet some really neat people in the process.

Who knows you might even want to share some of your additional harvest to say thank you.  It’s always fun to share with the person who shared with you.  Happy Manure Hunting!

One of the best ingredients for my garden comes from farm manure. Get tips for finding natural manure for your growing space. #Gardenmanure, #GardenTips, #Fertilizer


  1. Thanks for sharing on Tuesdays with a Twist. I love my chicken manure enriched compost, and used to also appreciate the rabbit poop when we had rabbits. You're probably right that it's difficult to make great compost without animal manure. Years ago, I used to make it without manure, before we had chickens, but to get the compost going, I would occasionally sprinkle with blood meal or some other organic fertilizer that probably contained animal waste. Though I suppose if you have the right proportions of green to brown, you can make some darn good compost without poop.

    1. Stay tuned because I'll be talking about composting without manure later this week. I try to keep things simple as possible and let nature do as much of the work as possible. These are little things my Grandma taught me from the time I was a kid and they work, she was a big believer in Fish fertilizer too. I think the main thing to remember is we have to continuously give back to the soil the best way possible if we expect to receive from it. Thanks for sharing and rabbit poo is amazing! A few years ago my son raised rabbits on the ground in the pastures and the grass came back so rich in color. Was a neat to experience. -Carole

  2. Those are also good tips for the reverse situation of getting rid of manure. Not that I want to get rid of any of mine. But what if I was laid up and unable to clean out the barn after a long winter. It would be wonderful to locate people who would be willing to shovel it out and take it away to enrich their gardens.

    1. I pretty much use all of mine now days too but sometimes if I have additional I like to move it on where it can do some good. I guess posting a local ad might be a good way to find those who would want mucked hay. Thanks for stopping by Diane hope to hear from you again. Carole

  3. Great post, we get ours from a local farm, and also a family up the road have horses and give it away. Followed you here from the HomeAcre Hop, would love for you to share this on Real Food Fridays.

    1. I will jump on over the real food – thanks for stopping by and that's great you have a source of manure for your garden manure I bet you're garden is amazing because of it. Have a Great weekend! -Carole

  4. Tessa Zundel says:

    This was a great list of tips for those without small farm livestock – thanks for sharing at Green Thumb Thursday! We hope you'll join us again!

    1. Thanks Tessa – Glad you stopped by! Always nice to hear from the readers and discover that what I'm writing is helpful. Have a Fantastic day and hope you take a moment to follow GardenUp green. -Carole

  5. Robin says:

    Are you direct composting animal manure into your edible plantings? I think that's brilliant but as I understand it, the Food Safety Modernization act says that's pretty much a no-no if you are selling produce.

    1. Yes mam I direct compost everything but I also let it sit before planting and I don't sell produce. I think it makes more sense to grow your own food, Knowing where your food comes from just makes sense, I was brought up with this example and the last 4 years our family has been busy getting back to basics. It feels great! -Carole

  6. Gabriel Lopez says:

    I am in need of free cow manure will pick up minimum of 20 tons just need of free loading in big dump truck. Near Chicago land. Feel free to let me know were. Want to start a little farm in the city

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