Mud and manure management is important for animal health, keeping water quality high, and making a property look attractive. Good management plays the biggest role in keeping mud and manure under control. Depending on the scale of the issue, manure can reduce a property’s value while putting the health of the property owner, farm, and animals at risk.

Mud Production

Mud can be caused by a number of activities and conditions,including increased surface water, high traffic areas, highly organic soil, and the lack of ground cover. If not managed properly, mud can be hazardous to animal health,causing sickness and parasites. In addition, runoff from a muddy property will have high levels of sediment that contribute to water pollution.

6 Techniques for Reducing Mud

Reducing the amount of rain and water that runs through a pasture and animal yard will greatly reduce mud production. Ideally you want to divert water to a wetland, stream, ditch, bioswale or other safe outlet before it passes through animal areas. Here is a list of additional techniques for reducing mud production on a property.

  1. Establish a sacrifice area for animals
  2. Pick up manure regularly.
  3. Use appropriate footing for paddocks, sacrifice areas and high traffic area
  4. Install gutters and downspouts to roofs.
  5. Use vegetation as a mud manager.
  6. Rotate water trough placement areas to avoid mud and manure buildup.

Sacrifice Area

A sacrifice area is an alternative animal housing area used to keep animals off the pasture during the wet months. This area can also be used to care for sick or injured animals. Locate the sacrifice area away from water sources and plant a vegetation buffer around the area to reduce the chance of contaminating the water. The appropriate size depends on the type and quantity of animals that will be held. For longevity, the Marion SWCD recommends using crushed gravel for a base material.

Manure Management

Manure, if not properly managed, can leach into ground and surface water causing pollution. Animals produce a lot of manure and without regular management it can become overwhelming quickly. Ideally manure should be collected every one to three days to reduce polluted run-off, fly breeding sites, and muddy areas. Using certain types of footing material can make cleaning sacrifice areas easier with minimal material loss. Federal and State laws forbid discharging any animal waste into water.

Manure Storage

Whatever the method of manure storage being used, the pile should be covered during wet periods and set on an impervious surface to limit leaching and runoff. If you plan on using a front loader to turn or move the pile make sure the roof of the structure is tall enough. The Marion SWCD can assist property owners in developing a manure composting/storage facility.

Manure Application

Applying manure to fields and pastures may help with the soil’s tilth, water holding capabilities, resistance to erosion and production of beneficial organisms. Crop nutrient needs should be the regulator for how much manure is applied. The goal is to maximize nutrient use with minimal environmental hazard. Nutrients in manure vary between animals, so conduct soil tests and then choose the proper animal manure accordingly.

Manure Exchange Program

The Marion SWCD manages this program, which allows prop- erty owners to post their contact information online to then have people contact them for free manure pickup. If you are interested in participating in this program contact the Marion SWCD. The list of participants can be found at