Bedding and Composting

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Polimom, Apr 1, 2016.

  1. Polimom

    Polimom Hatching

    Mar 18, 2016
    Greetings to the community - this is my first post (stemming directly from the impending arrival of my first-ever chickens).

    We are converting a horse stall in our barn to a coop, and am trying to understand what will be the best floor litter. Specifically, I'm wondering about composting compatability.

    For those folks who are using pine shavings -- are you simply putting the shavings into the compost pile? Doesn't that affect the compost acidity when it has broken down?

    I like the idea of the shavings, primarily because of weight. I also like the simplicity of sand (but am kinda worried about trying to move it around to throughly clean). But droppings would then be added directly to the compost pile without Ph changes from pine. No?

    Thank you for your thoughts, and apologies if this is covered elsewhere - I tried to read as much as I could before asking.

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    It’s an interesting question but I think you are overthinking it. Whatever you put in the compost will affect the final product, either adding certain nutrients or affecting the pH, but there is a pretty wide range of pH for your garden that works. Hopefully you have gotten a soils analysis for your garden soil so you know what you are working with to start. You can easily adjust the pH with sulfur or lime if you need to, as long as you know if you need to.

    For me the volume of compost I use compared to the volume of the soil that is already there is miniscule. The compost is going to have a very minor role to play in overall garden pH. It still will give you great nutrients. To me a huge benefit of compost is that it benefits the tilth of the soil, making it more like garden soil than whatever you started with.

    I don’t know how often you will clean out the bedding and move it to the compost. We all do it differently because we are in different situations. I clean mine out every three to four years and put that on my garden in the fall after harvest. By planting time it has broken down. I use wood shavings. More common is people cleaning it out once a year or maybe once every six months. Others clean it out weekly. Our coops and management techniques are all different.

    Wood shavings are high carbon content and fairly slow to break down in the compost, especially if you don’t have a high nitrogen component to add to it. But they will break down and make great compost. You may have a use for your compost where the exact pH is important but for the vast majority of us the pH of the compost is really pretty minor in the overall scheme of things.
  3. Polimom

    Polimom Hatching

    Mar 18, 2016
    Ridgerunner, thank you VERY much for your thoughtful and informative reply.

    You nailed it in one: I am definitely overthinking this. Didn't realize how deep I'd gone into the weeds until you called it - thank you!

    ::steps back:: ::deep breaths::

    Hate when I get sucked down like that. Thanks for the sanity check -- which came with some really excellent info as well!

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