Chicken Poop & Adventures in Composting

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Butterbane, May 21, 2019.

  1. Butterbane

    Butterbane In the Brooder

    Mar 27, 2019
    The science is eluding me, and I'm seeking the advice of more seasoned Chicken Gurus!

    We are chicken newbies. Our girls will be two months old this Friday, and are growing strong! Since we live in city limits, we cannot have a traditional compost pile, and instead have a dedicated tumbling composter for all chicken waste. Thus far, the contents are mostly from the nursery (brooder), and poop from the roosts and various locations around their run & coop.

    It gets turned every day, and we feel that we have our poop together. But I'm wondering if there is anything that we can add to the composter that will help to lessen the ammonia shockwave that hits us when the composter is opened.

    Everything I've found online only talks about reducing the ammonia fumes in the coop, not the compost.

    Current compost composition: baby poop (face it, poop is poop), pine shavings, newspaper (shredded by their tiny raptor claws), some straw, & spilled baby food.

    Any ideas from the BYC master minds?
  2. FeatherstoneFrm

    FeatherstoneFrm Songster

    Aug 1, 2014
    Appling, GA
    You may need to add some green clippings; grass, leaves, etc. . .left over veggies and maybe even some worms to help break it down faster.
  3. trumpeting_angel

    trumpeting_angel Free Ranging

    Feb 6, 2019
    I think you might need “browns” more than greens. Compost (the science part) requires more carbon (“browns”) than nitrogen (poop) to work properly. Lots more, actually.

    Urban browns could be more shredded paper, leaves (dried), grass clippings (dried), etc. You have pine shavings but they are wood and break down too slowly to be of much use carrying the carbon burden.
  4. Ted Brown

    Ted Brown Songster

    Dec 12, 2018
    Shawville Quebec Canada
    My Coop
    Obviously this lady knows her s**t!!
  5. trumpeting_angel

    trumpeting_angel Free Ranging

    Feb 6, 2019
    Ted Brown likes this.
  6. trumpeting_angel

    trumpeting_angel Free Ranging

    Feb 6, 2019
    Butterbane likes this.
  7. igorsMistress

    igorsMistress Crossing the Road Barefoot

    Apr 9, 2013
    My Coop
    Hi there. I had a similar issue when learning to use my compost tumbler. Here's what worked for me.

    More browns definitely. A quick and easy way to do this is to buy a bag of timothy hay at walmart and spread it out to dry a few days and leave the composter door open at least 24 hours so things can dry out. Maybe turn it and leave open another 24 hours depending on smell. Another thing you can do is add some dirt, that will help too.

    A cheaper way is to visit a feed store and buy a bag of feed hay, the stuff they sweep up from the bales that break or that falls off. I can get a huge bag for $3 here.

    Toss whichever in the run and let the chickens have fun for a week. Then add it to your composter. (I'm no longer going to the feed store because they have chickens on premises and I think there was lice in the hay so I buy Timothy hay in a pinch if I don't anything on hand).

    I started having faster breakdown after that once I started adding fruit and veg scraps, egg shells, spent tea and coffee grounds. And of course turning.

    Avoid too much pine if you plan to use your compost in your garden. It can prevent some seeds from germinating and stunt or kill some transplants. Which I haven't checked.

    I hope that helps :)
  8. Loveak9

    Loveak9 Songster

    Sep 1, 2018
    South Central Wisconsin
    trumpeting_angel likes this.
  9. tpatricco

    tpatricco Songster

    Mar 24, 2019
    Warren, NJ
    Composting is a lot about balance between brown and green...I think you probably need more brown stuff. Dry leaves, a little dirt could help.

    Also diversifying what you're adding can be good too. Do you add kitchen scraps from veggies & fruits etc? A little grass clippings from the yard? I think your current contents are out of balance + no real ventilation in those tumblers too... too hot yields anaerobic conditions - not what you want.
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
    trumpeting_angel likes this.
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    The ammonia smell comes from anaerobic bacteria breaking down the stuff. You get anaerobic bacteria because it's too wet, the moisture keeps the air (oxygen) out. Aerobic bacteria (the good type) needs air to breathe. If your compost is stinking, it is probably too wet.

    Trumpeting's link talks about it being as moist as a squeezed out sponge. You don't have to be that precise but it's a good ballpark target. If it stinks it's too wet. If it is too dry the bugs can't live and reproduce so there is a balance.

    Chicken poop can have a lot of moisture in it. You may need to add some dry stuff to balance it out.

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