I'd put it nearby if you can - when my compost is close to being "done", I will scoop out a bucketful and let them root through to find the bugs & worms as a treat. Ours is across the yard but they chase me down when I head over there! I agree with previous poster - at first, it's pretty nasty and I don't know you'd want them covered in rancid bits of stuff. We put fish bones in ours recently and it is rank.
I hadn't thought of that. I have been throwing the weeds from my garden in there and the scraps I sort of put on top. They seem to spread it around really fast but I suppose when it really gets big enough to be a legitimate pile it could mold, but I've not had much trouble with mold (that I know of) in compost piles before. Will microscopic mold be a problem?
I would not for several reasons -- the first being mold -- moldy food can kill your birds within days if not hours. Secondly, one thing you are likely to put in a compost heap that your birds they shouldn't have are potato peels -- some say they are toxic -- others have given their birds potato peels for years. In this case I like to err on the side of caution. And thirdly, a compost heap puts off a lot of humidity, something your coop will already produce a lot of on it's own. Humidity in winter will contribute to frostbite.
That's my opinion and I am sure other folks will offer theirs.
I have a "working" compost pile, that is surrounded by a hardware cloth circle, that kitchen scraps and other icky stuff goes into. I also have leaves and yard debris that I have lined the back yard along the fence.
I have been putting the dried leaves in the chickens run, along with diatomaceous earth. There is still grass in the run, I'm going to lay sand down when it's gone.
There was an odor before, in areas where they hung out a lot, but now it's nice and fresh! I just threw a big heap of dried leaves in the middle. It's in tiny pieces now, I shoveled more in tonight. The other day I racked old out and put new in, just to see how much trouble it was. I have to use a plastic trash can cause the door is so narrow but it really wasn't much trouble. The chicken treated leaves went into the "working" pile.
I think the same principle applies, as in the coop, deep litter stays fresher. I rack it around a little and it's all dry. Which is the other secret, the deep litter must stay dry.
Here is a pic of their pen before I added the leaves. I also have a wire top now, and a hardware cloth apron.
After the grass dies I'm going to scrape it all out and add the sand. But so far it's nice and fresh.
My birds free range and are in the "compost pile" all the time. Thing is, not much composts! They scratch through, eat most of it, and I don't get a big enough heap to heat up. Kinda a moot point, then.
I don't think properly composting material molds, does it? But my birds eat moldy bread, etc all the time and turn it into lovely eggs. I throw out potato peels, I don't know if they eat them or not but they have the choice.
Since I've had chickens I don't have a compost pile. All the stuff that would go into composter goes into the chicken coop. I have very large runs so when I clean the coop of poo and bedding I dump that in a corner of the run as well along with a bail of straw. Over the spring and summer of them scratch at it all and adding more poo to the mix, It breaks down pretty good.
Once my gardens are done for the year, I take my bow or dethater rakes out to the coop, scratch up anything that's hardened, load up the wheelbarrow and spread it all out on the garden beds. Come spring I till it under and boom they are ready to go!
We have that lovely Carolina red clay and shale in our yard. All the stuff my chickens work into it makes it into an awesome loamy soil!
I have compost barrel for what the chickens shouldn't have, but that's not much, and the rest just gets tossed in their run. NOTHING lasts long enough in there to get moldy! I used to have a big compost heap for thier icky bedding and stuff, but they discovered it last year and ever since then they won't leave it alone long enough to cook so everything just goes into their run. In the fall I dig out a few inches off the top of their run exposing tons of tasty worms and the super rich soil goes out onto my beds.