Instructables
Picture of Using cowpat to store seeds
This image is (rather,used to be) a very common sight in rural India. Cow excreta is very rich in minerals has a surprising amount of uses; cow urine is used as a disinfectant and biofertilizer, and the dung is used as fuel, for storing seeds, and in summers is spread on the floors and walls of huts as it lowers the ambient temperature,in addition to acting as a disinfectant.

Unfortunately, these practices are slowly disappearing, as houses are being made with "modern" materials, and a number of more convenient (albeit,less sustainable) tools (like gas stoves, are available on the market.

In this tutorial, I'll be illustrating how to prepare the cowpat, and also a few of its uses.
 
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Step 1: Collecting the fresh dung

Picture of collecting the fresh dung
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Collect the dung in small balls, approx 15cm in diameter.

Step 2: A

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Hit the dung against a rough stone wall (preferably one under direct sunlight), with enough force so that it sticks. Then flatten and spread it against the surface. Repeat this with all the balls. Leave to dry for about 4 days.

Step 3:

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Remove the dung from the wall with the help of a spatula (it comes off easily enough, and doesn't leave much of a stain). It can now be used either for storing seeds, or as fuel.

Step 4: Using the cowdung for storing seeds

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The cowdung can be used to store seeds for periods upto a year, until required for the next sowing. This method actually improves the germination and viability of the seeds, in addition to protecting it from pests.
This can be done with both fresh and dried dung, but is more effective when the dung is fresh. To do this, just repeat the first two steps,but this time embedding the seeds in the dung before sticking it to the wall.

Step 5: Using the dried cowpat as fuel

Picture of using the dried cowpat as fuel
Cowdung is actually a very good option for fuel, especially when it comes to cooking. It burns slowly, and gives a steady flame,allowing food to be kept warm for long periods of time, and, also, lends a very characteristic flavour if the food is being cooked in an earthen pot.
diy_bloke6 months ago

living in western Europe, when I was young, cow patches were easy to find. now it seems cows are usually inside and farmers have to keep track of all the dung and pay tax on it 'for environmental reasons'. Where the heck am I going to find a cow patty nowadays :-)
Overregulated country :)

Homeofmyown3 years ago
Would horse dung work as well as cow dung? I live in an area with lots of horses but not many cows. Great information we need to know ancient, low tech ways of living.
No. Cows are ruminants, horses are not. They might eat basically the same food but their entire digestive processes are very different. This is one of the reasons why using horse manure in gardens is discouraged-the food isn't as thoroughly digested and usually includes high amounts of live weed seeds.
ibarnett523 years ago
im sure it does leave a nice flavour
woolglass23 years ago
If a suitable wall is not available...a piece of drywall works. Dry dung patties in a sunny location.
archerj3 years ago
I grew up around cows and dairy barns, and never minded the smell of "cow patties." They eat grass, hay, and some grains, and it all is processed through 3 stomachs before any of it becomes dung. So what's left after being digested is a clean-smelling mass that is not offensive at all. I believe all ruminants have this type of dung, and it makes a wonderful garden fertilizer. Wish I had access to it to add to my garden!
Somehow I think this would get me in a lot of trouble with the wife if I tried it a home...
saurabhlevin (author)  Mr. Potato Head3 years ago
maybe a neighbour you dislike then? :)
"very characteristic flavour" = "tastes like cow poop"?
snotty3 years ago
Awesome! What a good idea. I read somewhere about people using dung for adobe like applications. They used it to make reflectors for solar stoves by painting on silver paint.
Kiteman3 years ago
Haha, love the facial expression in step 1...

By the way, I assume you sow the seeds in the dung - is it best-suited to any particular kind of seed?

saurabhlevin (author)  Kiteman3 years ago
well, as far as i know,you break the cakes of dung before you actually sow the seeds. sowing rows of cowpat might be a little difficult :)
i'm not sure about whether this process is best suited to any type of seed,though.will find out about that.
I'm waiting to see all the comments of people who are horrified by the picture in step 1!
saurabhlevin (author)  falafelcakes3 years ago
ha....actually, even i collected some of the dung myself (when i wasn't holding the camera), and it wasn't nearly as disgusting a task as i'd imagined it to be.
This is interesting! If I recall correctly, a few kinds seeds need to even be passed through the digestive tract of an animal to be able to sprout. Some seed coats are thicker than others, and in order for them to germinate they need to be weakened. The enzymes in the animals digestive tract are just enough to do that. I'm thinking this is why the cowpat helps in the germination of the seeds, since that is where they dung comes from.
scoochmaroo3 years ago
Very well written and photographed! It's enlightening to see low tech solutions from different parts of the world. I'm excited to see what you have to share with us next!