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Colorado Small Acreage Management - Improving land stewardship by helping landowners understand and manage their property resources (soil, water, animals, plants, and air).

Animals – Horses, Livestock, and Poultry   arrow

Manure Mgmt

Manure Management Guidelines for Small Acreages – educational brochure explains why manage manure properly, best management practices and disposal options for small acreages in Colorado

Healthy Manure Storage Tips

Manure Management

  1. Divert clean water away from manure:
    • Construct berms, terraces or waterways, and/or use downspouts to divert clean water away from corrals and manure storage areas.
  2. Ensure manure discharge will not enter a water body or leave the property:
    • Limit animal access to ponds, streams, ditches, and wetlands.
    • Collect manure frequently.
    • Stockpile manure at least 100 feet outside a floodplain.
    • Do not stockpile manure in a dry creek bed or ditch.
  3. Protect ground water:
    • Locate manure storage piles and livestock corrals at least 150 feet down-gradient from wells.
    • Use a 150 foot buffer around wells when land applying manure.
  4. Reduce nuisances like flies and odor:
    • Stockpile manure downwind from barns and 200 feet away from neighbors.
    • Plant trees to reduce wind and odor from stockpiles.
    • Keep a lid on manure dumpsters.
    • Remove manure from corrals and pens every few days to prevent flies, parasites, and worms.
    • Cover fresh manure in stockpiles with at least 5 inches of clean bedding, straw, or hay to prevent flies.
    • Prevent flies by using pesticides or fly predatory wasps (non-stinging) which can be purchased to manage flies.

 Manure Disposal Options

  1. Dispose off-site to a landfill that accepts manure or hire someone to pick-up and dispose of manure for you.
  1. Compost manure. This requires the right ratio of carbon (bedding or leaves) and nitrogen (manure). Try 30 carbon to 1 nitrogen by volume. Water to keep the pile 50% moist and aerate the pile regularly.
  1. Spread manure. Spread in spring or summer. Test manure for nutrient content and spread based on soil test recommendations. This will ensure the nutrients are being utilized by the vegetation growing. Unused nutrients can pollute water bodies and groundwater. Remember that raw manure may contain weed seeds which will be spread back on the land.

Estimated Horse Manure Application Rates*

  • Dryland range: 1 ton/ac/yr
  • Irrigated alfalfa: 5-10 tons/ac/yr

*Test manure for nutrient content and spread based on soil test.

Livestock Mgmt

Livestock in the MountainsEquine Biosecurity

Biosecurity is often thought of as a problem only for large operations, but there are small practices all horses owners can adopt to keep their animals healthy.

Livestock Management in the Mountains

Booklet developed specifically for Colorado mountain communities. Topics include fencing laws, dealing with predators, cold temperatures and snow, handling emergencies, poisonous plants, and much more.

Targeted Grazing: A natural approach to vegetation management and landscape enhancement

This handbook represents a compilation of the latest research on harnessing livestock to graze targeted vegetation in ways that improve the function and appearance of a wide variety of landscapes. It is organized both as an introduction to targeted grazing for the novice and as a useful reference for seasoned managers.



Backyard Poultry

Raising backyard chickens can provide you with fresh eggs, pest control, and hours of enterteinment. Before you get started, here are a few considerations to keeping a healthy and happy chicken flock:

  • Hens are productive egg layers for 2-4 years and have a life expectancy of up to 7 years. Egg production decreases as they age. Also, expect less eggs during the winter months.
  • If you have a chicken coop or run area, aim for 10 square feet per chicken, and make sure they have access to soil or sand.
  • Do not place nesting boxes directly below roosting areas. Chickens poop a lot at night, designating a different space for roosting will ensure your eggs are kept cleaner.
  • What to do with the waste? Read this article from UGA about backyard poultry manure composting.

Backyard ducks.

Ducks are relatively quiet birds, and often lay eggs more regularly than chickens do, and are less likely to bo broody. Ducks can also tolerate heat better than chickens, especially if given a source of water like a pond to cool off.

Before purchasing, do your research on breeds and select one that is appropriate for your goals. There is a wide variety of ducks for different purposes, from the egg laying ducks, to meat ducks, hybrids and show or ornamental ducks with more colourful feathers.

Visit this webiste to learn more about housing requirements for ducks.

Keeping multiple bird species

It is not uncommon to keep chickens, turkeys, guineas, geese and ducks together, however they do have different needs and behaviors, so keep this in mind, especially when planning the shelter for each type of bird. Another consideration for backyard poultry is to keep animals numbers to a manageable amount. Most bird flocks need a higher female to male ratio. In any scenario, keep in mind that domestic birds are preys and need adequate shelter from predators. Make sure you provide a safe and dry shelter for all your birds.

Learn more about poultry by clicking on the links below:

Sheep and Goats

Sheep and Goats

Goats are very popular animals for small acreages due to their small size, ability to browse, a relatively cheap diet and their fun, friendly nature. Goats can provide with meat, fiber, milk or other services like targeted grazing, which can be incorporated into a weed management plan, but goats are also often kept as pets.

As with any other domestic animal, breeds have been developed to fulfill the production needs of farmers. Dairy goat breeds are often the most popular. Some of them include the Nigerian Dwarf, Pygmy goats and Nubians. The Boer is a common meat goat, larger in size that can adapt well to rough terrains, while other more  exotic goat breeds like teh faining goats are often kept as pets. Lately, the interest in targeted grazing has increased as well,so choosing goats that have a combination of good temperament, browsing skills and adaptability to different climates and terrains is crucial. Some of the most commonly used goat breeds for targeted grazing include the Alpine, Boer, Pygmy, Kiko and Spanish.


Shelter needs for goats 

Goats don’t usually need very elaborate shelter set ups. A simple three-sided shed, facing away from winds usually provides enough protection from the elements. In general, you need to provide goats with a dry area , or add bedding to keep the area dry, access to feed and water, and enought ventilation in the summer months.

Fencing is a must to keep goats in their designated area and safe from predators, although you can expect goats to escape even the most elaborate fences at some point. Guardian animals are a good idea to keep goats safe from predators. Llamas, alpacas, donkeys and some dogs make great guardians as they have natural insicts to protect their herd from wild animals.

How many goats can you keep in your land? 

A mature goat needs approximately 3.9 pounds of dry forage per day, or 1,423 pounds of forage per year. Dryland native pastures on loamy soils produce around 375 pounds of usable forage per acre per year (that means, without overgrazing the pasture). That means you would need approximately 4 acres of native dryland pasture to feed one goat without suplementing hay. Forage production varies depending on soil types, irrigation and grass types. Click here to learn more about stocking rates. If you are expecting to purchase msot of the feed for your goats rather than grazing, you can have more flexibility on how many goats you can have, and this number will depend more on what is more manageable for you as the owner.

The rule of thumb for all grazing animals is to “take half, leave half” of the grass height to avoid overgrazing, which leads to bigger issues with noxious weeds and soil erosion.

Animal Emergency Preparedness

Rabies on the Rise in Colorado: Be Aware

  1. Do not handle wildlife, especially skunks, raccoons, foxes and bats that are acting inappropriately or have died.
  2. Vaccinate your pets and livestock.
  3. Educate yourself. Save your life or the life of a loved one. For information go to the Colorado Dept of Health website:


Resources & Helpful Information

SAM Webinars and Web Videos

SAM Newsletter Articles

CSU Extension Fact Sheets