Composted and fresh beef cattle manure samples were extracted with distilled water, acetone, methanol, 2 N sodium hydroxide, 2 N hydrochloric acid, and ether. Bioassay techniques, using the extracts, showed that composted manure extracts had limited effect on seed germination and seeding development of wheat and sorghum. All the extracts of fresh manure, other than distilled water, retarded germination. Acetic, butyric, propionic, valeric, and isovaleric acids were found in ether extracts of fresh manure at average concentrations of 348, 876, 578, 34, and 19 mug/g, respectively, on a dry-weight basis. However, only trace amounts of these acids were present in composted manure. Propionic acid up to the 200-mug/ml level stimulated seedling growth. Acetic and butyric below the 200-mug/ml level had no detrimental or beneficial effects on seedling development. When acetic, butyric, and propionic acids were mixed in equal parts, germination and seedling growth were reduced at all levels (50 to 500 mug/ml).