Originally Posted by Teelibird
OK..I have read thru this thread and found lots of good stuff that I can use. However, I am still unsure about what and when the composted/scratched over material is removed for use in the garden. I am a ways off that yet, as I only have 4 Red Shaver chooks and they have a huge run. I have layered 2 bales of barley straw in the run, they love it. I keep them in there until after the eggs are laid and then I let them into a move-able run until mid afternoon when they go back into the home coop. Where they discover all over again the joys of scratching thru barley straw and garden waste.I also throw the odd hand-full of pellets and kibbled maize out on the straw so they have hidden treasures to find when they are scratching around.
Very happy chooks, making lots of contented noises and kicking straw around as well as any All Black winger !
So, when the stuff is composted down and no longer recognisable as barley straw and garden waste etc,what do I do then? Rake it out? Add new stuff where I have taken out the old? Take all of it out or just half the run?
there isnt really one right way to do it, is the thing. how often do you use compost and how much do you need at once? if you tend to garden seasonally and need a bunch of compost at once you can just plan to remove it all at once once a year or whenever you prepare garden beds. however i use a little at a time throughout the year, so i tend to just scoop out whatever i need when i need it--i just pick an area, rake aside the partially composted stuff on top to get to the good humus underneath, remove what i need, and let the chickens rake it back flat while they eat the bugs i uncover. i try to go to scoop from a different area ofthe compost run each time so that i gradually work my way around the whole thing. if the materials in the compost run get fairly well degraded before i get to using it all up, i just keep adding more stuff on top so that there is a constant layer of mulch on top protecting the more finished stuff underneath from getting too weathered or compacted in the rain and sun.
i used to fork it all out at once into a bin to heat up and finish, but but it was too much backbreaking work and didnt actually seem to make any better of a compost product than what i already have at the bottom layer of a mature compost run.
good luck! composting with poultry is a great system.