chicken bedding for mulch??

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by shellybean40, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. shellybean40

    shellybean40 Chillin' With My Peeps

    515
    2
    141
    Apr 15, 2010
    Boerne, TX
    I was wondering if the used fine flake chicken bedding can be used as a mulch in a vegetable garden? I am not worried about the poop, as I know it is good fertilizer. I am more concerned about the pine bedding from TSC.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    34,028
    456
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    The disadvantage as I understand it is that wood leaches nitrogen from the soil as it decomposes. Possibly enough would be replaced by the chicken poop for this not to be a problem. Fresh poop can burn your plants, though, it's much safer to compost it a few month or at least a few weeks before putting near your veggies. You can also make manure tea with fresh poop.
     
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Yes, you'd be better off using it one of two ways. The first would be to compost it for a year until it turns into black organic material to use in your garden. The second way is to merely stock pile it during the growing season. In fall and all throughout winter, you can spread it on your garden as fertilizer. In spring, when you till, you'll mix and blend the decomposing manure into the soil. You should cease all applications of manure when you get with 30 days of planting, at the latest.

    Plant food and soil amendment, made from chicken litter, is absolutely one of the prime benefits of keeping a flock.
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    95
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Shavings (or whatever) do not temporarily rob N from the soil if used as MULCH, only if they are actually mixed in. So just plain ol' shavings are really pretty safe as mulch. Also, even if you do stir them in, the fact that these are USED shavings means they will be bringing at LEAST as much N as they're likely to need WITH THEM, so that is not likely to be a problem even if you did mix 'em in rather than use as mulch.

    The real considerations IMO are slightly different.

    1) if your litter is REALLY pooey, it may have an excess of N that will easily leach down into the soil when you get rained on, and has the potential to damage plant growth by an excess of N. You *can* get away with putting fresh chicken poo or pooey bedding around *some* plants in *limited* quantities at *some* time of year but you need enough gardening experience to be able to make reasonably-educated guesses about where to draw the line, AND I would never recommend doing it around perennials or (worse) trees/shrubs that you would be highly distressed to lose.

    2) You can get E coli (and other food poisoning type bacteria as well) illness from eating veggies that have got too-fresh poo against them, either from lying onto the ground or from rainwater splashing or whatever. Certified organic operations that use manure are legally required to age it for I believe it's 60-90 days before use, for this reason. The risk is obviously much greater for things like lettuce or spinach, whose entire growth cycle occurs within that time span and are right down there on the ground getting dirt on 'em all the time, as opposed to things like corn where even if you planted into recently-manured ground the ears won't be mature for several months and anyhow they are firmly held quite a ways up above the ground.

    Obviously it's a personal decision how much you gonna worry about food poisoning from fresh manure on the garden, but it is a consideration to at least be aware of so you can make an informed decision rather than being surprised if something goes wrong [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  5. AllTheseCreatures

    AllTheseCreatures Chillin' With My Peeps

    I use chicken bedding for mulch and I agree, let it rest before you apply it to the garden. The idea to save it all for the fall and sheet compost it all winter is a good one. Helps keeps the weeds down and increases the tilth of the soil. Makes for beautiful soil!! I agree as well not to dig it in, just push it aside to plant. If you allow it to break down that way you shouldn't have any issues with pH or Nitrogen deficiency. Mother Earth News published an article on this topic fairly recently you can read HERE.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by