Horse-powered nutrient cycle

Valorising horse manure through composting or fermentation

Horse manure constitutes a valuable fertiliser, which can serve as a raw material for mushroom substrate cultivation, for example, or as an additional fertiliser on own horse pastures, on one important condition: that no worm infestation can take place. At present, however, horse manure does not constitute revenue for the horse farmer, who even incurs costs to dispose of the manure externally. 

With this project, DLV wants to change this and look for sustainable applications of horse manure. Thus, together with five horse owners, we conducted research into composting horse manure. The aim was to find out how horse farmers could best valorise horse manure on their own farms, taking into account both the legal, financial and practical aspects. Specifically, we investigated, for example, whether the high temperatures in the composting process could kill parasites present and eliminate the risk of worm infestation.

United Experts / DLV

Partners Universiteit Gent, Vlaco vzw, VZW Paardenpunt, Vlaanderen, Quality Stud, Josse Janssens bvba, Stoeterij de Lindehoeve, Stal Imala, Yoki





  1. On-farm composting of horse manure is possible. Whether or not to work with a potting shed (i.e. a shed where the manure is potted) has no immediate impact on the quality of the compost obtained. 
  2. The legal framework surrounding a circular manure farm currently stands in the way of our circular goal. However, if that legislation changes in the future, we may get recognition as a circular farm for farmyard manure, which is interesting in the context of manure marketing. 
  3. Fermenting manure in the lab set-up did not kill all larvae, but composting tests by horse owners always gave a sufficiently high temperature. The horse owners also did not observe higher worm transmission in their animals. 
  4. The horse farmers involved are positive about the outcome of the project and the experience they were able to gain. They will continue to valorise and compost their horse manure themselves.


  1. Composting your own horse manure is possible, but it requires a considerable investment of time: converting heaps, monitoring humidity and temperature ... These efforts are important to obtain good quality compost. 
  2. A good knowledge of manure legislation or strong guidance in that area are very important. There are many conditions to be met, depending on the composting location, among others, as well as rules on what you can and cannot do with it... 
  3. To obtain complete certainty about the effectiveness of hygienisation, further research is needed. Indeed, the lab set-ups from this project were sub-optimally done. The biggest problem was being able to use contaminated manure. 
  4. Depending on the size of the horse farm, it may be financially more advantageous to valorise manure itself instead of disposing of it externally. However, the time investment involved in composting must be taken into account.
1 Brochure (paper + digital)
2 User groups and webinars
1 Final event at Quality Stud
5 Test sites at horse farms


The horse owners who participated in the experiment will continue to compost themselves. Other horse farmers may also be encouraged to explore this avenue. The other partners involved have also built up a lot of additional knowledge around composting horse manure and will include it in future research. 

In the foreseeable future (and provided the necessary funding is obtained), it is planned to conduct a new study on the hygiene of roundworms during composting and fermentation.