» Using Zoo Manure in the Garden

Using Zoo Manure in the Garden

Q. I want to try some manure to improve my soil tilth, and zoo animals have healthy, weed-free diets. Is that a good choice? And if I went to my local zoo, which animals’ manure should I ask for?

A. First of all, only use the Herbivores’ manure. Carnivore–doo is much more likely to have diseases that could be transmitted to humans. As a matter of fact, I believe Zoos in the USA incinerate their carnivores’ manure for that reason – at least Utah’s does.

How much manure do you want, and how well equipped are you to compost it? Elephant and hippo-doo are sloppy, smelly, wet, and need serious composting before they are of use to the gardener. However, there is substantial volume, and you can get a lot quickly.

On the other hand, giraffe, llama, camel, deer, sheep, goats, etc are small, dry, easily handled, more concentrated, and not at all bad to work with, but there usually isn’t much volume at any one time.

If you are able to obtain any of these, and have several weeks before you’re planning on putting plants in your beds, you can put the manure right in the soil, till it in, and let it compost in the ground. That’s my favorite way of doing it anyway – you have no smells, no bugs, etc., and you only handle it once.