It was not so long ago when animal manures were the life and soul of the compost heap and their role in keeping the soil fertile and productive was never in question.
It is only in the last fifty years or so that manures have come to be regarded as unwanted waste products and a problem to dispose of.
The reason is that modern intensive farming methods allow large numbers of animals to be kept on an area of land that is far too small to use all the manure that is produced.
Another reason is with the introduction of artificial fertilisers it has meant that most arable farmers no longer want to manure there land in case it throws the land out of balance.
Using artificial fertilisers, everything is calculated down to the last pound of nitrogen and using farmyard manure throws that out.
To me, it is most bizarre way to go on. Animal manure is just as valuable today as it always was and the benefits to soil health, fertility and structure remain the same as it has for centuries.
As an organic gardener, I only use manures from organic farms. The reason is that non-organic farm yard manure has been spread with God know what and it can cause real harm to your crops (particular tomatoes)
Manures to avoid are those that a from intensive farms such as battery chicken houses and piggeries. These manures can smell quite bad and are very likely to be contaminated with antibotics, growth promoters, and heavy metals.
The best places to get manure from are stables and riding schools. These, by there very nature are often quite close to towns and are more then willing to get rid of there piles of manure which can become an embarrassing problem to them because they do not have land on which to spread their manure on.
If your look around your area you might be lucky enough to find some cattle farmer who may well be able to deliver a trailer of muck to your plot.
Other sources of muck could well be pigeon lofts, rabbit fanciers, and the like. Put an advertisement in your local paper and see what turns up.
Manure is such a valuable material that is worth taking time to search out a suppler, you may well be surprised at what you find.
Horse and cattle manure is the most common form of muck and they will come mixed with straw bedding material which will add bulk to your garden.
If you analysis these manures it may look rather useless in comparison with bagged fertiliser, but this is no reason to reject them. The manure is much better for your soil in the long run, because they provide that all important organic material that your soil will crave.