Found this little article in one of my gardening magazines....
~A word about manure~
Because the nutrient content cant be guaranteed, fresh or home made composed manures arent considered fertilizers. Still they are so useful that theyre worth a special mention.
Gardeners usually apply manure for its nitrogen content. The nitrogen content of manure, however, is infinitesimally smaller than that of standard fertilizers. Also manures nitrogen content is released over a period of time, which can be good in that manure continues nourishing soil for a long time but bad if you need quick results.
Because E. coli contamination can become a problem with fresh manure, its best to use commercially steam treated, composted or well rotted manures. If fresh is your only option, apply it in the autumn; by spring any E. coli bacteria will have died. Fresh manures lose up to 50% of their nitrogen content when left on the surface over winter, so work them into the soil when you apply them.
Fresh manure can be high in ammonia, which burns roots and leaves. If you smell ammonia, then put it under cover and let it rot before you use it. ;)
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