Making Paper out of Cow Manure

Cow Manure, you can use it to help your soil, your garden, you can dry it and use it for fuel for your fire and you can even make paper from it.. thanks to your cow (sheep, horse etc) ability to turn pasture or hay into tiny bits of fiber that get passed out the other way.. we can take advantage of the fact that around 50 to 60 percent of that cow pie is in fact useable fiber in paper making.

Now let me say right off, that if you want to “just” use cow poo fibers, you will end up with a different texture and a greenish or Tan paper, if you want to cut it with available white fibers from a hobby shop, you can get a very pretty flecked paper, and from there you can add in all kinds of things, colors, different types of fiber etc.

However I went for straight and plain. So first you need a source of cow manure, you need to have pie’s that are not having a lot of straw or bedding, that is has had time to dry out some.. These are about perfect for me..

Now comes the part that is just plain not fun but required.. if you can do this outside, I would recommend it, but if not, just clean the kitchen and sinks really well afterwards and open a window..

Put your tidied up, dried cow patties into a big pot, filling it no more then half full and then top it up to mostly full with water, bring to a boil, and stir to break them up as they heat up and start cooking.. Boil that sucker for at least 20 min, some perfer more like an hour, but to me that is overkill, your choice.. it will look like this when done..

Now again, if you can do this outside with a pillow case or old linen, and the garden hose, saving that compost tea for some plants but its way to cold out there for that today, so I am working inside.. so in much smaller batches.

I used a cheese cloth, and you start running cold water in, then you lift the different sides until its a ball and you just keep running that cool water in and pushing it out, till the water runs mostly clear, the key is to  run that water till there is NO smell left and all the extra’s are washed off, you will be left with the clean wet plant fiber.

Now some folks will put this back into the cleaned pot and boil it again, you can if you want, I don’t,  at this point, you will have a whole bowl of this fresh cleaned fiber, it should look like this..

Now you have the your basic fibers, and if you want really course paper, it will work but while you want a rustic homemade look, I would not recommend it being quite this course, here is a close up view for you.

Now I like to put it back into fresh clean water and hit it with the blender stick, you can use a blender if you perfer, I find the first much easier to clean. It will cut the fibers into much finer peices and leave you with a smoother looking paper.. I went for a rough look myself today.

Here is my blended fibers in their pan and water, just waiting for me to dip my screen into it, remember to come in sideways and go all the way to the bottom and then bring it up and a gentle sway to level the fibers on the way up.

Now I would recommend that you flip it out onto damp felt and then cover with the same and press it down with a weight. Here it is on fresh out damp on my screen..

It looks dark right now, but I assure you it will look like a more lighter tan with green  overtone when its finished drying out.. So here is the final product..

It turned out great, a few words of note, Even when this paper is fully dry its still going to be more fragile then store bought paper, treat and handle with care, second, because of its more textured surface, I would recommend a thin felt pen instead of a typical ball point pen. You will need a softer tip and more flowing ink to get a nice write out on it.

Otherwise kept in a box and treated well your paper will last a long time and a perk, it will recyle like a dream.

Working on making my own composting plant starter pots, plus will do some posts on how to use natural plants/mushrooms to create colored paper as well as how to add dried flowers to make flower paper later in the year.

Going to make this post part of the Homestead Barn Hop #6

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25 Responses to Making Paper out of Cow Manure

  1. Great post. I cant help it but I guess this is where the term”This paper is crap” must come from lol

    • LOL, cute.. Glad you enjoyed the post, I am working on a part two, how to take this paper and turn it into composting plant pots for your garden, raither then buying them.

      • Being serious this time. I think that it is a great idea and I am sure the old timers used this method a lot. I also like the fact that you can us the water later to water your flowers and I’ll bet they love the stuff.

  2. DEE says:

    Does the “eau de cow” remain in the finished product? There would probably be many people you might want to send stinky letters to….and you could claim your hobby as the most unusual……DEE

    • Hi Dee,

      No smell remains, honest, it’s just clean sterilized plant fibers, some folks like to add in a a few drops of Tea tree oil at the end, it give the paper a nice smell, I like to add in dried flowers, I will make some this later this year to show it, I really like it with the tiny purple lavender flowers added in at the end.. Its very pretty indeed when done that way.

      Its is a interesting hobby, and one that I am happy to be able to do more of, now that I have my own cow.

  3. rjwoodland says:

    Great post – it made me laugh. I came across a company in UK last year making & selling paper from Welsh sheep poo – but they didn’t give much away on how it was done.
    http://www.creativepaperwales.co.uk/
    Good idea about the self composting pots – would be good for things that do not like being disturbed to plant out.

    • Thanks for the link, that is interesting, I have never done the sheep poo, it just seems like such a larger amount of work to collect, but now I think I will have to make a small batch and give it a try.

      yes, that is what I thought as well with the self-composting pots, just perfect for those plants, and at the same time, I can control what the pots are made out of, which I can’t if I am buying them at the store.

  4. Seriously. This has got to be the coolest post EVER. And an original one at that! :)
    I love this idea and am bookmarking it for sure. I’m having visions of giving this as Christmas gifts to my animal hating relatives and not telling them what it is. hehehe, j/k. Thanks for sharing this at the Homestead Barn Hop!

  5. Quinn says:

    This is fantastic!!!! I’m bookmarking it and (after working up the nerve to try it) will have to do this sometime- especially like it for pots.

  6. Abbi says:

    Okay, I thought I was pretty open minded but I am struggling a bit with this idea. The finished product looks neat but I just can’t imagine making that.

    It isn’t that I haven’t worked with that stuff, I have shoveled manure many, many times but squishing it with my hands is a little beyond what I am ready for.

    • Hi, if it helps at all, just remember that you are not touching it until after its been very well boiled, and if you can do the rinsing outside, you don’t need to touch it at all, until its just well rinsed plant fiber, you just pour it into a old pillow case and use the garden hose to work with it, till the water runs clean, and then some folks will give it a second boil before working it themselves.

      I know that the middle photos look really bad but I wanted to try and show the texture if someone was making it, they would know what each stage looks like.

  7. dogsmom says:

    I am intrigued. I will be reading this again (and perhaps a few more times.)
    I wonder if adding in some other fibers would make it less fragile.
    Now you have me considering the consequences of mixing manures from various species. Depending upon the concentrations color and texture would vary.

    “Someday” when I have time and nothing making demands on me, maybe I will experiment.

    • Hi, I will be doing some more posts on this, with different idea’s on how to use this paper. I have never done a mix of manures yet, but I do know that you can buy bags of paper fibers from craft stores, and yes, I would agree that doing so does make your paper less fragile up to a point.

      If there is a difference in the paper between pasture vs hay, then I would use that the answer would be yes for differences to a point depending on the type of manure (I am almost finished doing a post on sheep as I was interested to try it)

  8. Pingback: Homemade Paper Making using Sheep Manure | Just another Day on the Farm

  9. Dustin Favor says:

    I am interested in using dried cow manure to make pen blanks for turning. With the finished product being a ink pen. Basically I need to figure out the best way or product to use as a binding agents for the cow manure fibers so that I can make small 1″ x 1″ blocks that will be hard enough to withstand the turning process. Your post here on how to clean the manure was very helpful. Any ideas or suggestions on what to use as a bonding agent would be helpful. My email is bmwe1021favor@yahoo.com. Thank you. Dustin

  10. alex says:

    wheres is the video or link to the video because i cant find it?

  11. waterstar says:

    I would love to know how to make cow pots for my seedlings. Any ideas?

    • You can make cow pots by making regular cow paper and then pressing it into cupcake pans, allow to dry till you can lift it out and then place on a wire rack and allow to dry fully, voila cow pots..

    • I have made a few small pots , just to see that they could be done, but I prefer to make the full sized pot that is the size of a loaf pan, so that I can start six seedlings in it, its a lot less work but it takes a bit of practice to get the thickness right, strong enough to hold the shape, thin enough to dry properly, I found using a fan helped with the drying.

  12. Sara says:

    I would like to add some wildflowers in my paper so there is some color. How would you suggest I do that?

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