Which manure spreader size is right for you goes beyond how much can be loaded into it. Let’s take a look at four things you should think about when considering a new manure spreader for your manure spreading plan.
Hi everyone, Matt Metzger here with ABI Attachments. Welcome back to another episode of the ABI Dirt. Today, we are diving even deeper into manure, which sounds really terribly unpleasant, but we get a question often from many of you, that’s a great question, and we get it at trade shows and on social media and when you folks call in. And the common question we get when it comes to manure spreaders is “Which one is right for me?” And that’s a great question, because even in our line of manure spreaders we’ve got lots of sizes, lots of options, some designed for different tow vehicles, and then you get outside of ABI and you’ve got lots of different spreader manufacturers. There’s a lot out there that you can purchase. So whether you’re looking at an ABI classic manure spreader or not, I’ve got a couple of questions for you to help you kind of diagnose and determine what manure spreader is right for you. What do you need to be thinking about as you to start to make that manure spreader either initial purchase, or your upgrade? So let’s talk it out.
First thing on your list; you’ve got to think about your tow vehicle. I know you’re here to talk about manure spreaders, not the tow vehicle that’s gonna pull it, but until they develop a self propelled and automated manure spreader, which would be great because, I mean, that’d be great for a lot of reasons, you gotta hook it up to a tow vehicle to make it go and get it spread out there. So, let’s talk about that tow vehicle. Can your tow vehicle pull it? Can your tow vehicle stop it? And, does your tow vehicle have what it needs to have to actually make it go? I know it’s really easy to take a look at specification tables and say, “Well, I’ve got enough horsepower on my tow vehicle, I can pull that thing.” That’s great. Good thing to know.
You also need to consider; do you have the traction on your tow vehicle? Do you have the right kind of tires? Do you have turf tires? Do you have ag tread tires? What kind of material are you pulling in? Do you have the strength, the torque, the traction, to make it go? That’s something to consider. You also need to take a look at how heavy is that manure spreader. When you’re lookin’ at the different spec tables and weight tables, or talking to factory reps of different places, you wanna make sure that you’ve got enough strength to pull the weight of the spreader that you’re looking at. But remember, it’s not just the weight of the empty spreader, you’re gonna fill it, right? I mean, you’re gonna put manure in that spreader so that you can spread that manure out, so think about how heavy it could would potentially be once it’s fully loaded. And we get this question a lot, and I’m so sorry, I’m just gonna put the stake in the ground on this one. There’s really no way of anyone but you knowing how heavy that manure spreader is going to be once it’s fully loaded. Manure comes in all shapes and sizes, and smells, and moisture contents, and densities, and depending on what butt it falls out of it could weigh different quantities. So, we’re not gonna be able to easily tell how heavy that thing is going to be loaded up, but we can get a reasonable guess. So make sure that your tow vehicle can pull a fully loaded manure spreader. That’s pull.
Second factor in your tow vehicle is stop. This has more to do with your terrain. And I know this sounds like a really dumb thing, but you don’t want to be in an unsafe situation where you’ve got a fully loaded manure spreader, you’re heading down the hill to get out to the back pasture, and all of a sudden you don’t have the brake capacity that you need on that tow vehicle to stop the fully loaded spreader behind you. So, just make sure that the weight of your tow vehicle, the stoppability of that tow vehicle, can handle the fully loaded manure spreader. We wanna keep you safe as you’re goin’ about your chores.
Third thing to consider on your tow vehicle; can it do what it needs to do to spread? And that sounds like a dumb question, but keep in mind there are ground drive manure spreaders, and there are PTO drive manure spreaders, if your tow vehicle doesn’t have PTO capabilities, PTO’s not really an option. Some manure spreaders also come with hydraulic functions. Either the apron chain is pushed along by hydraulics, or maybe you have an end gate or a stop gate that is controlled by hydraulics. Does your tractor, does your tow vehicle, have the appropriate function, PTO drive, hydraulics, that it needs in order to make the manure spread work?
Second factor you need to consider is your manure management plan. And manure management is like an entire degree from some land grant colleges and ag schools, I get it, but here’s the bare bones of it. Are you spreading daily out in your pasture in the space that you’ve got, or are you composting first? Which one you do might change what manure spreader you need. Do you need a larger quantity manure spreader because you’re gonna be loading up a compost heap and it would take you forever to work through that huge compost heap if you have a dinky little manure spreader? Or are you cleaning out a coupla stalls every day, so a small manure spreader works just fine? You wheel it through the barn, you load it up outta the stalls, and then you go spread.
Another reason manure management plan matters when it comes to deciding what manure spreader is right for you, because compost heaps need to be turned, which means every now and then you need to take that big heap and you need to put it into something that can stir it all up, a manure spreader that shreds before it spreads maybe, and you need to be able to spit it back out and create a new pile right beside the old pile so that the material is all churned up, that way temperature is consistent, moisture content is consistent, how much sun is getting on the outer layer is consistent. That’s the appropriate step in composting. It is easier to take that step with some manure spreaders than others. So what’s your manure management plan plays a big deal into what manure spreader is right for you.
Third factor to consider when you’re looking at manure spreaders is how and where do you load your manure spreader? Do you have that manure spreader all the way in the barn? Is that where you’re loadin’ it up? Do you have aisle ways that are big enough hallways through your barn that are big enough next to your stalls that you can wheel that manure spreader to? Is the manure spreader parked right outside so that you can get a tractor up to it? Or do you have plenty of maneuverability because your manure spreader is going to be parked over by the compost pile and so you’ve got lots of motion, lots of space around it that you can load that spreader up. How you load it is equally important.
Do you need to have a smaller spreader because you’re takin’ your rake and you’re spreading and you’re loading up that spreader directly from the stall? Or do you have the spreader parked right outside the barn and you have muck buckets or wheelbarrows and so you need to be able to position that wheelbarrow so that you can dump into the spreader? Or are you using your tractor, your loader, your skid-steer, to load it up? Well, you might need a larger manure spreader if you’re relying on the bucket, the scoop bucket on your tractor or your loader, in order to fill it up. It’s gonna fill a whole lot faster if you’re fillin’ up with that bucket rather than scoopin’ out one rake full at a time. So what you’re loading with plays a difference.
Fourth thing on the list, how much poop you got? How much manure is on your property? How many animals; horses, livestock, sheep, goats, alpacas, whatever you got, how much waste is being produced every day? That’s gonna play a big factor in how big of a manure spreader do you need, or how often are you willing to spread manure because of how much manure you’re working with. Plays a big role in what size you’re lookin’ for.
The last thing on the list, and this is kinda the anchor point, so if you stuck around this far, you stuck around for the good stuff. How much do you care about your pasture health? Because if you have grass you’re taking care of, if you have pasture ground that you’re taking care of and you release your animals out to that pasture ground, then you’re going to need a manure spreader that processes manure in such a way that all of this manure is broken up into as fine of particles as possible so that bugs, larva, parasites, can’t grow, so that that sun can bake it, temperature goes up, moisture content goes down, so that you can have healthy pastures so that you can have healthy animals.
That’s all we’ve got for today, everyone. Thanks for sticking with me on this deep dive into a stinky subject. See what I did there? Remember, if you want help, if you want someone to talk with as you’re thinking about what manure spread is right for you, we’ve got an entire team of factory reps that this is the kind of stinky stuff they like talking about all day long. So if you have any questions, if you’re not quite sure what matches up with your tow vehicle, if you’re not quite sure what’s best when it comes to how many animals you have, or what your tow vehicle’s capable of, give us a call, ask for a factory rep. Whether you want one of the our ABI classic spreaders, or you’re looking at another model that somebody else makes, we’re happy to answer any question to help you get your manure taken care of, keep your animal healthy, keep your pasture healthy, and help you get your work done. See you next time, everyone.