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Horse and cow manure are loaded with nutrients and are good ingredients for jump-starting your compost pile. Manure by itself is very strong, but if you volunteer to clean out a friend's stable, you'll get a good mix of manure and cedar shavings that can go right into your pile. The fresher the manure, the more active it'll make your compost pile. Dried manure will have a similar but slower effect.
For a compost to do its work of breaking down all of this stuff into useable elements, it needs to heat up. It takes water and nitrogen to start it cooking; manure has plenty of nitrogen and beneficial bacteria to get the compost pile going. You could use a handful of nitrogen-rich fertilizer and some fresh melon rinds if you don't have access to manure; it'll just take a little longer for things to heat up.
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