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strangles and horse manure in the garden

From: Concerned

Hi Jessica, I have just read about the girl with a boarders 28 yr. old horse that has bastard strangles. We know of a friend who just obtained a 2 yr. old horse that had strangles and has managed it quite well under strict quarantine and now the young boy is doing much better. The other horses at the barn have all been properly inoculated and I remember the vet saying that the manure should be ok. The cleaning of that horses stall went in with the regular pile of manure from the other horses and now is tilled into a garden. Does this mean that she shouldn't plant her vegetables and eat them from that garden? I know that everything has been sterilized for contact with the other horses and no one else has come down with it so it's been going very well on that note. Just got concerned after reading this poor girls situation on her boarder & that horse. Is it safe for her to eat out of that till? Thanks in advance for any information you can offer. Concerned in NY


Hi Concerned!

In the case of the horse with severe bastard strangles, the reason I suggested the traditional method of keeping that horse's manure separated from that of the other horses, and covered in plastic, was a very simple one. Since flies can spread strangles, and flies are drawn to manure, this is an easy, practical way to keep the flies away from the sick horse's manure.

Your friend's horse is very young, and it sounds as though everyone has done everything right and the horse is recovering nicely. I don't think that adding the manure to the garden should create a problem for your friend or the garden, provided that the manure - like ALL manure added to vegetable gardens - is thoroughly composted by the time she uses it. If she is worried about the strangles pathogen, she might want to allow that load of compost to "cook" for an extra few weeks just in case! During the weeks or months that the manure is in the compost pile, being turned and aerated and "cooking", the compost pile achieves and holds a high temperature for a long enough time to kill off most pathogens.

Mind you, it would be quite another story if your friend were trying to add manure to a garden WITHOUT composting it first - but then she'd also be putting consumers of that garden produce at risk for all sorts of other nasty pathogens, from e.coli to salmonella. I'm sure she's not silly enough to try to use ANY uncomposted manure in ANY garden, but you might mention it to her just in case. I know it sounds idiotic, and I don't mean to insult her, but I would rather give her an unnecessary warning and have her think me rude, than not mention the possibility. I have actually met a couple of people who attempted to use raw manure in their vegetable gardens, and who made themselves and their families very sick as a result. If your friend wants to be sure that her composting methods are as effective as they can possibly be, her county extension agent can give her all sorts of information about different composting methods and how to use manure safely.

Jessica

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