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Hi, Ray, We can't comment on

Hi, Ray, We can't comment on particular brands; we simply do not have experience with them. Check the bag/package for ingredients and consult the vendor or people who have used it.

As for age and effectiveness...if you're talking years and years, maybe—but make no mistake about it: that's still good stuff! If you've got really, really old manure, you could mix it with some that is not so old—but aged a least a year (that's the safe minimum); that which is too "new" would be too "hot" and potentially burn plants.

Re straw, one of our editors uses in her compost pile cow manure that the farmer was mixed with straw (and even wood chips) when it was swept out of the barn. In her compost, which also includes kitchen scraps, the straw and chips both break down and effectively disappear. It might depend somewhat on how much straw, but in general, it's not a problem and helps to retain some moisture and aerate the mix.

For more information on horse and other animal manure, go to

• http://www.almanac.com/content/manure-guide

• http://www.almanac.com/content/preparing-soil-planting

• http://www.almanac.com/content/ph-preferences

We hope this helps!