Can I use "used" litter after coop clean-out for mulch?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by jaybme, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. jaybme

    jaybme Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have a small suburban yard that I mulch areas of every spring to prevent weeds. I was going to go and buy mulch when I saw my just cleaned out pile of litter from my small coops (three chickens in one and two quail in the other).

    Can I lay the litter out as a mulch to prevent weeds? It isn't smelly or anything. The chickens COULD walk where I want to put it but they never do, they are afraid of the brick mow strip and never go off my grass.

    Would it grow asperilosis or something else bad for my chickens, or would it decay into the dirt? I am talking maybe two cubic feet of litter over 100 feet of dirt.
  2. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    You need to let it compost a bit first. The chicken poop is hot. The wood can cause the phosphorus in the soil to lock up if there is too much going on at once - then same as paper does.

    I would make me a compost bin, wet it down with a good sprinkle, turn it daily. It heats up pretty fast. In about 2 weeks you will see it breaking down and turning dark. I wouldn't use it before then.

    If you have a garden spot going fallow until spring you could dump it there and till it in a few times until planting season.

    The uncomposted chicken poop is hot with amonia and can burn your plants.
  3. 2468Chickensrgr8

    2468Chickensrgr8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2007
    I personally would use it for mulching but my dogs would say Thanks MOM !!!and be digging it all up....dont put it close to your plans though it will burn them if its new"litter"

    at the very bottom of this screen is BYC 's sister web site alot of great info on their also....good luck
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2009
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    It depends.

    How long was the litter in the coop; how pooey is it; and how dry has it been in the coop. Also what kind of plants will you be mulching.

    If the litter has been in the coop a good while, and is not overly dry, and is moderately but not hugely pooey, it is unlikely to hurt your plants too badly if you really wanna use it as mulch right now. (THat is, I've done it from time to time and nothing bad has happened, but of course I cannot guarantee this will happen 100% of the time in all situations [​IMG]).

    If the litter is quite fresh but also quite pooey, it would really be wisest to dampen and compost it for at least a few weeks, preferably longer; and then keep it away from plants that are very sensitive to nitrogen overload.

    If the litter is mostly shavings, then the main risk is actually the opposite -- decomposition of high-carbon materials (like shavings) requires substantial nitrogen input, and microbes breaking down the shavings mulch will draw N out of the soil creating a temporary N deficiency. (This is what Miss Prissy is thinking of, not phosphorus).

    How much a problem this is depends very much on your particular garden -- what your soil is like, how deeply you would mulch, and what plants we're talking about. You *can* do it, but if symptoms of N deficiency appear, you will want to apply a high-N fertilizer to compensate. Some people would, instead, add lots of nitrogenous material to the mostly-pure-shavings and compost that mixture for at least a month or so.

  5. citalk2much

    citalk2much Twilight Blessings Farm

    Dec 22, 2008
    GR MI: TN bound!
    Hummmm this makes me think bet I can compost the litter from my button quail cages and avairy with veggie scraps and yard stuff cool I never thought of that thanks for the great idea oh hey the guinea pigs and bunnies litter yes I think I an going to have a much happier trash man!
  6. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I compost my poopy litter for a few months. I also add other composting materials. I do it in piles. My soil is sand and low in nitrogen, so it's good for my soil. I test it.

    Here is a picture.

    Last edited: Jan 11, 2009
  7. citalk2much

    citalk2much Twilight Blessings Farm

    Dec 22, 2008
    GR MI: TN bound!
    Very cool I bet that is great for the garden! I am moving my garden this year and I think the ground in the new spot is going to need lots of work thou the sun will I hope be better
  8. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    I'm a landscaper and I just throw my poopy litter on top of the mulch. The only problem I have is that the color is so pale, I'm going to have to mix it in a bit for looks. I did the same with rabbit litter. I've never had a problem--you would have to have a lot of chicken poo right on top of the rootball to burn it. You also do not need to worry about nitrogen starvation if you do not mix the litter into the soil. So just toss it out and let it compost in place if it looks fine to you!
  9. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Rabbit poo can go straight into the garden. It doesn't need to compost. It also will make a very rich worm bed which means protein for the chickies.
  10. citalk2much

    citalk2much Twilight Blessings Farm

    Dec 22, 2008
    GR MI: TN bound!
    Very good I hope to have another good heritage garden this year
    Last year was bad for tomatoes I don't think it was hot long enough for them darn it had tons of fruit just did not ripen

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