Compost troubleshooting

gtaus

Free Ranging
Mar 29, 2019
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My Coop
My Coop
Depending on how often I turn it, and how active it gets, it can be done in 3 weeks.* Then it can go on the garden, or sit until I need it. ... *This is the "hot" method of composting. Yup, lots of labor, but sometimes I'm in a hurry for some compost.

Wow, 3 weeks is amazing, but if you put all that work into the turning of your hot compost piles, then you deserve the rewards. My strategy was to make more chicken run compost then I could use, so I always have compost in the run ready to harvest when needed. It took me about 6 months of adding material to the chicken run to get to the point where I now have more compost than I can use. I continue to add material to the chicken run all the time, but I'm never in a hurry to make compost as I have more than I can use.

Last year, I was giving away chicken run compost to my good neighbors for their raised beds. They loved it. And I still have more compost in the chicken run than I can use for myself.

Also, another pitch for my cement mixer compost sifter.... I can sift out 6 cubic feet (3 bags of compost) into my gorilla cart in about 15 minutes. The sifted compost goes to the garden and raised beds, and the unfinished compost gets thrown back into the chicken run. Anyway, I used to buy compost at $5 per bag at our big box stores, but now I can process compost from my chicken run at the rate of about $120 per hour (if I had to buy compost bags at the store). My days of needing compost in a hurry are behind me. I got years worth of compost ready to harvest in my chicken run.
 

MTKitty

Songster
Aug 14, 2021
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... periodically sift out my finished compost and then return unfinished parts ...
In a single person household with dry summers and unpredictable cold weather, it takes forever for composting. I have yet to see how chicken leavings will impact, as I deep litter and my flock is young.

I could easily see harvesting what is available as it becomes available. How do you go about sifting your compost for useable stuff?
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
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I started out with a pallet compost pile in the chicken run, and that worked fine. However, I discovered that just throwing everything on the ground in the chicken run worked even better for me. If you turn your chicken run into a composting system, you do not need a compost pile in the run.
When I suggested moving the compost pile into the chicken run and letting the chickens spread it around, I meant to move the contents of the pile, not put the bin in the chicken run.

So what you are saying and what I was trying to suggest are the same thing.

I have never had a problem with rodents in my chicken run due to the food scraps I feed my chickens. Having said that, my chickens eat all the food scraps I give them every day and there is nothing left in less than maybe half an hour.
My experiences are about the same as yours. The chickens eat the most attractive stuff first, so it's not lying around to attract anything else.

Do you get some food waste that is old and moldy? If so, do you bother to sort it out from your material for the chicken run, or do you just throw everything in the run and let the chickens pick out and eat the good stuff? I know everybody says not to give moldy food to your chickens, but I wonder if there is moldy food in the mix that the chickens will just eat the good stuff and leave the moldy food alone?
I'm different than "everybody," because I DO give moldy food to chickens. They typically eat it, mold and all, and do not suffer any harm that I can see. It is usually small amounts: the last two slices in the bag of bread, the cheese that got forgotten in the back of the drawer, the strawberries that got mushy and have a touch of mold.

Some molds might be toxic, but not the kinds that I have encountered on bread or cheese or produce. The bread mold and cheese mold haven't hurt people either, when they had a bite or two before they noticed something was off.
 

RubelliteRose

Songster
Apr 15, 2020
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SE Virginia
In a single person household with dry summers and unpredictable cold weather, it takes forever for composting. I have yet to see how chicken leavings will impact, as I deep litter and my flock is young.

I could easily see harvesting what is available as it becomes available. How do you go about sifting your compost for useable stuff?
I built a frame out of 2x4s and attached 1/2" hardware cloth to the back. The frame fits over my wheelbarrow so the finished compost falls into it. However, it is a lot of work, so I think I will try building a tumbling sifter similar to this one that I found on Pinterest. Unfortunately, no instructions, just a photo
1634407359840.png
 

MTKitty

Songster
Aug 14, 2021
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I built a frame out of 2x4s and attached 1/2" hardware cloth to the back. The frame fits over my wheelbarrow so the finished compost falls into it. However, it is a lot of work, so I think I will try building a tumbling sifter similar to this one that I found on Pinterest. Unfortunately, no instructions, just a photo View attachment 2868049
That gizmo is cool. PVC must be the ultimate diy supply.
 

MTKitty

Songster
Aug 14, 2021
397
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MT
After starting a small compost pile, I ran into the direct method of composting. I like this idea because I need to bury my kitchen waste to discourage scavenging (bears, coyotes, neighborhood dogs). I think I might give that a try on a new bed I plan to create next spring.

This article specifically mentions using chicken leavings in the direct method.

https://www.grit.com/farm-and-garden/do-it-yourself/direct-composting-zm0z16jaztri/

The only drawback for me might be leaving a bed fallow while I compost to it because of my dry summers.
 

Red-Stars-in-RI

Crowing
7 Years
Mar 24, 2014
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Rhode Island
Yeah, you really got a good thing going with all that food waste product. If I had that much food scraps for my chickens, I doubt they would need any commercial chicken feed at all.
I’m going to use the magic quotes to work through the goodness bit by bit. :)

My flock still gets commercial feed, but on a good day they get a lot of their nutritional needs from the compost & food waste.

If I was going to go “pellet free” the big thing I’d need to do different is add protein. They get plenty of worms and bugs, but to consistently hit the mark on protein I’d need more meat scraps. If I lived in an area with invasive fish species, I’d be dusting off my fishing pole to go do my part keeping population in check.

I do “treat” with 30% game bird starter to up overall protein.
 

Red-Stars-in-RI

Crowing
7 Years
Mar 24, 2014
1,320
3,087
316
Rhode Island
Do you get some food waste that is old and moldy? If so, do you bother to sort it out from your material for the chicken run, or do you just throw everything in the run and let the chickens pick out and eat the good stuff? I know everybody says not to give moldy food to your chickens, but I wonder if there is moldy food in the mix that the chickens will just eat the good stuff and leave the moldy food alone?

I do see some moldy items…it’s well under 5% of the material (probably 1-2%). If I see something obvious and accessible, I do sort it out and toss it into a composter outside the run.

Generally speaking, though, you’re right…they ignore the moldy stuff and focus on their favorites. I imagine that in a system of plenty, this is the case…if their only option was moldy feed, there would be more risk they’d eat it.

I’ve also noticed that any mold disappears after a week or so in the compost - not sure why, but the compost microbes seem to eat the mold.
 

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