Cleaning Frozen (Or Unfrozen) Paddocks

What do people use to clean manure when their paddocks are partially frozen? My regular manure fork isn’t strong enough to get the poop to unstick from the frozen ground.

And then if I leave the manure until it thaws, I have small bits of manure everywhere. Any suggestions on how to get them?

It doesn’t help that my “dry lot” is a big mud pit for the most part right now, so I don’t have a great surface to pick the manure up from.

Manure has creative ways of making our cleaning desires more difficult, that is for sure.

I am sure others might have better ideas but my first step in the removal of a pile that has managed to freeze to the ground is to kick it and see if it will pop off. This typically leads to a bruise on my toe or heel so I do not recommend this step.

Then I take out a claw hammer and I swing at the base of the pile with the claw side of the hammer and usually one or two good smacks pops that darn pile right off the ground.

If the pile is more stubborn than my claw hammer I admit that I typically give up.

I have one mare that likes to make a pile, then step backwards and stand on it while she eats from the hay bale, making the pile all rounded and totally fused with the ground. These sometimes do not come up well.

Edit to add - I have no doubt my neighbor must think I am very weird out there, hammering away at the ground.

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A square ended shovel to chip the piles off the ground and a wide scoop shovel to get them into the manure cart. It’s a royal PITA but I’ve not come up with a better option. Regular manure forks break tines like crazy on frozen ground :frowning:

For short frozen spells, I leave in place and then just rake up at melt.

This is what I do, and then once the ground dries enough I use the leaf blower to get all the little bits left behind (it helps to preserve my gravel/mud-free footing).

I clearly need to up my shovel skills because I have tried that approach and that has never worked for me, but I see it works for two others so it must be me.

Thanks. The shovel method does sound like a PITA but maybe it’s the way to go. Unfortunately since so much is muddy it’s really uneven when it’s frozen, which makes it even harder.

I plan to deal with the mud this summer, so hopefully I at least will only have to deal with that aspect this one season.

Yeah, it sucks. If you get a thaw with another freeze expected, raking the mud flatter and keeping horses up until it freezes again is a worthwhile exercise.

Spring is when, again? :joy:

Mr Squirrel has been known to use a pickaxe. :roll_eyes: Fortunately it doesn’t usually get that cold here and if it does it doesn’t usually last longer than a week.

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Fork with robust metal tines, not the type you would use in a stall, but more tines than an old school hay fork.

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We have a system - DH uses the metal 5-tine pitchfork to pick up big frozen piles. This usually breaks off smaller frozen turdlets. I then use a metal rake (not a leaf rake but a robust, thick metal rake) to rake the turdlets into a pile. Then I’ll use the plastic fork to get underneath the turdlet pile and into the wheelbarrow.

Not foolproof, but works pretty well for us.

When it thaws (does it ever thaw here in Minnesota? It’s our first winter and I’m not sure I believe it ever will), a fine tine leaf rake works well to get the little bits.

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Don’t worry, my father was no doubt viewed as much weirder by neighbors… he would wander around in the summer spraying poop piles with fly killer. :rofl:

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I use a garden hoe to chop at it and break it loose from the ground. It hasn’t been nearly cold or as consistently frozen as normal years so this has worked all season so far. I have had to use an adze when it was really cold for a long time a couple of years ago.