Manure Evaluation Field Study
Hutjens, Extension Dairy Specialist, University of Illinois,
In the September 19th issue of Agri-View,
an interesting article on manure evaluation was reported from
a presentation by Mary
Beth Hall, University of Florida. “Reading” manure
continues to be an active area of interest on dairy farms. Dairy
managers, feed consultants, veterinarians, and feed company specialists
see manure changes and attempt to interpret these changes. Personnel
from Dairyland Labs report manure samples are sent in for evaluation,
but guidelines are needed to interpret and apply in the field.
Discussions with Vita Plus Corporation have raised similar questions.
Can manure samples be analyzed in a lab and “tells” us
anything about the herd or cows?
To answer this question, Becky Meier, a senior in animal sciences
from Ridott, Illinois, conducted an honors project collecting
information on manure variation. The study had the following
- Collection of manure sample of from research cows on a current
University of Illinois study. One cow was sampled three
times during the collection period (#6921) to see if changes
in early lactation.
- Cows in the manure study had been on a transition cow
study by Heather Dann. Manure sample were collected
within 60 days
after calving (all cows were on the same diet after
calving). Information on dry matter intake, days in milk, and
yield was collected on day of sampling.
- Five hundred grams of fresh manure were washed through
screen number 8 (2200 micron), number 16 (1120 micron),
30 screens (500 micron); dried at 55 degrees until
a stable weight
was achieved, and weighed to measure amount of particles
on each screen.
- Second set of fresh manure sample was collected and
sent to Dairyland Labs for dry matter, pH, and
A complete summary will appear in the 2003 Illinois Dairy Report.
The following points can be observed.
- A wide range in fecal starch was observed varying
from 2.3 to 22.4 percent.
- Fecal pH varied from
5.4 to 6.5 units.
- Fecal dry matter ranged from 9.2 to 11.6
- A wide range in milk yield (75 to 119 pounds),
dry matter intake (44.3 to 60.7 pounds),
and days in milk
the data set.
- The one fresh cow monitored
did not vary greatly during three weeks in early lactation.
We will be statistically analyzing the data
to see if relationships exist.
Field Applications of Manure Evaluation
Two ways to evaluate manure on farms
can be used even if manure analysis
Method 1. Monitor manure scores (1
as very watery to 3 as ideal to
5 as stiff
in days in milk.
- Fresh cows could range from
2 to 2.5
- Early lactation cows
can range from 2.5 to 3.0
- Mid to late lactation cows
may range from 3.0 to 3.5
cows can range from 3.5 to 4.0
Manure scores below 3 may be
due to lack of rumen transition
ration, too much protein is
fed, excessive starch intake occurs,
intake is happening, and/or
a lack of functional fiber exists.
Method 2. Wash a cup of manure
(about 8 ounces of wet manure)
using a number
squares to the
inch or 1/8
inch openings) to monitor
- If more than 8 to 10 intact
removed) remain, nutrients
inside the seeds are lost (due poor
rumination or lack
of functional fiber).
- If whole or split
- If partial or
whole corn kernels remain
corn silage was
processed, was processed
and/or was too mature at
- If small
pieces of corn grain remain
- If forage particles
inch remain on the screen,
quality can be
can be a useful
Nathan A. Pyatt
L. Berger, Dept.
hay were used
forms and then covering
or a salt-starch
5% sodium bentonite, or
SSM with 5% sucrose.
in storage for more than
change in quality
that the plastic cover
provided the most
SSM. The plastic
covered bales also had
less storage losses.
significant change between
did reduce bale spoilage.
of days fed
feed value during storage.
be a problem
the detailed report, look
at the webpage.