Manure Management: An essential component of 4-H livestock projects

2006 Annual Report for EW05-015

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2005: $59,927.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Western
State: Colorado
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Jessica Davis
Colorado State University

Manure Management: An essential component of 4-H livestock projects


Manure management is a critical component of sustainable livestock production. Our goal is to train extension 4-H leaders and youth in manure management. We have developed a draft of the 4-H Manure Management curriculum that includes the following topics: Livestock and the Community, Protecting Human and Animal Health, Protecting Water Quality, Protecting Air Quality, Composting Animal Manure, Manure and Compost Utilization, and Economics of Manure Management. The 4-H leaders will encourage youth to enhance their awareness and improve their skills in manure management. Behavioral changes may include increased composting, prevention of manure-contaminated runoff, and manure utilization at agronomic rates.

Objectives/Performance Targets

We will develop a Manure Management curriculum for 4-H livestock participants.
We will develop a “Helper’s Guide” that will provide additional learn by-doing activities.
We will pilot test the curriculum and make revisions to improve it.
We will print 3000 copies of the curriculum for distribution among all western states.
We will develop a youth-friendly webpage.
We will train 4-H agents in the use of the curriculum.
We will train volunteer leaders in the use of the curriculum.


We have completed a draft of the 4-H Manure Management curriculum Youth Activity Guide. We added a section on Protecting Human and Animal Health to our original outline since it is critical that youth, communities, and livestock are safe from disease during manure management activities. The review and subsequent revision and refinement of the curriculum are pending.

We are a few months behind schedule due to several staffing changes. Deryl Waldren and Tim Stanton have both left Colorado State University, and Adrian Card (although still with the university) is no longer working with 4-H. We have added an additional staff member to help out with this project part-time, Adriane Elliott, in order to help us achieve our goals.

Our revised timetable includes pilot testing the Youth Activity Guide with the Front Range 4-H Team in February or March 2007, training 4-H agents at the Colorado 4-H Conference in June 2007 and the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents in Atlanta in October 2007, and training volunteer leaders at the Western Regional Leaders Forum in early 2008. Before pilot testing, we will develop the Helper’s Guide. Prior to 4-H agent and volunteer training, we will develop the webpage and print hardcopies of the curriculum. In this revised timetable, we will probably need a 6-month unfunded extension to achieve the project goals, and complete all aspects by March 31, 2008.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

We are aiming for short-term, medium-term, and long-term outcomes.

In the short-term, we expect to enhance awareness of environmental issues related to livestock production and increase knowledge of manure management practices among extension 4-H agents and volunteer leaders.

In the medium-term, we aim to improve the skills of 4-H agents and leaders, in particular, to increase their ability to provide educational programs in manure management to 4-H youth. We will provide curricula and training in its use in order to achieve this aim.

In the long-term, we anticipate that 4-H agents and leaders will use the curriculum and encourage youth participating in the 4-H livestock programs to complete the Manure Management Achievement Program (which will be developed in conjunction with the Youth Activity Guide). We expect that agents and leaders will be able to document behavioral changes in participating youth. Behavioral changes may include an increased number of youth who are composting manure, changes in the corrals to prevent manure contaminated runoff, and utilization of manure at agronomic rates.

When the principles of good nutrient management are introduced early in a youth’s life, they are more likely to practice these principles in their adult years. Livestock producers who utilize methods for handling manure that do not reflect Best Management Practices may choose not to change their management techniques in order to protect the environment. However, 4-H youth are more likely to practice what they have learned from reliable sources such as 4-H curricula, and may influence their elders as well. The inclusion of manure management in livestock 4-H curricula has the potential to have a significant environmental impact as these future leaders and business people move into the workforce.


Adriane Elliott

Research Associate
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1170
James Pritchett

Assistane Professor
Colorado State University
Dept. of Agric. and Resource Economics
Fort Collins, CO 80523
Kathy Doesken

Research Associate
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1170