To be honest, I’m a big fan of sheep manure (sheep poo). It’s a deserved attraction because, as animal manures go, it has countless benefits. Its primary advantage is that it won’t stink out the garden and be the cause of neighbour angst.
Odour aside, sheep manure is an incredibly versatile animal manure. One of the benefits that I like the most is its usefulness for more than just a soil ammendment. As it’s so cheap here in Australia, being the 2nd highest producer of sheep in the world (China -1st, NZ – 6th, UK – 7th and US – 11th), I’ve started using it as mulch. Mulch? Are you sure that’s wise?
Sure it is. Sheep manure is low in nitrogen – compared to other animal manures – so it won’t burn your plants. Plus, it’s a natural slow-release fertiliser and this is part of the versatility of using it as a mulch. I usually pour it on to about a depth of 50mm (2″) ensuring that it doesn’t touch the plant’s stem. Then I just water it as I would normally reticulate the garden.
I’ve found a local supplier who guarantees weed-free marbles at a rate of $10 for a 100L bag which is fairly cheap (comparably cow manure costs $8 for 25L and chicken approx $11+ for 25L). The only down-side is that the manure is very dry and takes a few days before it will retain enough moisture to begin breaking down.
Some gardeners will only ever dig it in to their beds arguing that unless you do it will become so hard that it will never break down. This is not the case, and when piled as high as I do you can dig into the manure mulch within a few weeks and see the layer directly above the soil beginning to decompose.
Sheep Manure Uses and Benefits
So what are the myriad of benefits for using sheep manure;
- Natural slow-release fertiliser
- Has many benefits and uses as an organic mulch
- Easy to handle
- Relatively inexpensive
- Fairly easy to obtain and most providers usually offer door-side delivery
- Lower in nitrogen than other manures yet still high in Phosphorous and Potassium – great for plant growth
- It depends on the source but is usually weed-free
- As a manure, sheep poo looks great as a garden mulch
Is Sheep Manure Good for the Garden?
While I do use other manures in my garden – chicken in the veggie patch, horse and cow as additives for the compost heap – I much prefer sheep manure in my garden beds. As a fertiliser, its slow-release texture won’t burn your plants. Like any use of fertiliser, or mulch, it should still be kept from the base of plants. This ensures that any microbes in your garden won’t have unimpeded access to your plant stalks. It’s a hygiene issue.
In essence, sheep manure is great for the garden. The only stipulation would be to ensure that it comes weed-free certified. Anything less and you’re adding some major weed issues to the garden that you don’t need.