composting chicken poop?


9 Years
Mar 7, 2010
Riverside, CA
I am new to raising chickens and was thinking of composting their poop while they are still chicks (before I get them outside in the chicken tractor). Is is safe to compost chicken poop? Should I put it in the regular composter or in the vermicomposter? What type of bedding should I use so that I can just compost it, too?

Thanks for your help! I am trying to be as green as possible.


9 Years
Feb 10, 2010
Webster Groves, MO
I am new to the chicken thing too. I have four pullets that range from 14-18 weeks. So I am by no means a chicken expert. I do, however, do a lot of composting and here's my two cents. Straw and hay have been working great for me as litter. I just sprinkle some fresh straw/hay every day or so and the chickens work it in to the rest of the litter. The poop gets stirred in and almost disappears. Straw and hay will make much better compost than sawdust. Depending on your coop and your compost system there could be a lot of variables about what to do. It is certainly safe to compost the poop and litter as long as you don't intend to use it around plants right away. If you let the litter build up for a while, say a month or two, it will start to break down in the coop, especially if it gets plenty of fresh air. The more it breaks down before it goes into the compost the better, but it's not necessarily "bad" to put it in fresh. Not sure about feeding the litter to worms. Hope this helps. Aren't chickens the best?!


10 Years
Jun 13, 2009
Use min of 6" of soft wood shavings (not saw dust) usually pine available in 8 cu ft packages for about $6. TSC carries a good brand of their own. This stuff makes fine compost. You can put it directly on the garden if you are using deep bedding method and it has been down on the coop floor for 3 or more months. Otherwise you should add it to a standing compost pile - I would add it in between layers of other material... It is hot, but. the 3-more months in the coop with the bedding seems to take some of the hot out of chicken manure. This is my experience and I only speak for what I have done and what has been successful for me.


10 Years
Mar 16, 2009
NE/Mid Ohio
My compost pile is quite inefficient at the moment. I never turned it or watered so it never turned up as much. As soon as its spring I am moving the pile to near the coup and am going to mix the poo with the shavings and do well to keep up on it so I can use the stuff finally.


11 Years
May 10, 2008
Emmet TWP, MI
In the fall I clean out the coop and use the litter to top off the compost. It stays nice and warm through the winter and is ready for my garden by the spring. In the spring when I clean out the coop again, I will use the litter to start this years compost pile.

It has always amazed me that a six foot tall compost heap dwindles down to almost nothing!


10 Years
Mar 16, 2009
Oakland, CA
I have had great gardening success with composting chicken poop I have come to treasure my chicken poop!

I have found that hay and straw take a long time to decompose so I prefer wood chips as bedding. Straw or hay won't hurt anything in your garden if you add compost with undecomposed hay/straw, however in my clay soil I don't like it because clay + straw gets very compacted (it is how they make mud huts / adobe in some parts of the world!) and drains poorly. I am not an expert, though so there could be some tricks out there to make this work better.

I don't have a vermicomposter now, but I did a long time ago. Now I just add the chicken poo + wood chip bedding to my compost bin along with veggie scraps, and I try to add as much green stuff (weeds, grass clippings) as I do brown stuff (wood chips, dry leaves), and I add occasional water, an occasional shovel full of dirt (for good microbes), stir it up every month or so, and a few months before planting time (now!) I add a package of composting enzyme stuff from the nursery to speed things up.

My compost is probably ~10-20% chicken bedding+poo and it is FULL of worms - the descendants of a previous vermicomposter. I don't know if adding straight poo to the worm bin would work - seems like it might be a bit intense for them, but if they have plenty of room to move away into other compostable stuff, maybe it would work. I would experiment and see how it goes.

I don't pay much attention to making sure the compost gets hot...I let it sit for at least 3 months before using it in the garden, and it seems completely decomposed. If this sounds wrong to anyone I'd like to know!

Happy composting!


10 Years
Feb 16, 2009
Near Statesville, NC (Iredell County)
We clean our coop every day and remove any clumps we can. Some of the shavings get collected as part of this ritual. Then the poop and shavings all go into a small tub that I've been taking over to my garden all winter long and spreading/sprinkling it all over the place. I also have a nice large pile of shavings/poop that has been rotting in since last summer. A few weeks ago I took some of that and spread it out over a 40' bed that is 2' wide and then I tilled it in with my rototiller. Then weekend before last I came back and reran the tiller over it again and then prepped it and planted sugar peas and snow peas in the wide row. Last year this area was a mess and wouldn't produce a decent crop of anything. But when I got home last night before dark I went out to the garden and the entire 40' row was popping with pea sprouts. We quickly layed out some plastic sheeting with some wire hoops to protect the sprouts from frost and freezing which we'll still get here in the central Carolinas for a few more weeks.

But I believe the poop and shavings is going to be a big boon for my garden based on what I just saw. I can't wait to harvest the peas and then turn the vines in and replant the bed with tomatoes and peppers later this spring. They'll probably go crazy.
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Free Bird
10 Years
Apr 3, 2009
Pleasant Hill, CA
Chicken Poo = Compost Gold!

I scoop poop from under the roost every morning and put the poo & shavings in a bag by the coop.

About once a week DBF stirs it into the pile. I think the chick'n-poo has definitely increased the heat of the pile.


10 Years
Mar 29, 2009
I layer the chicken poo with agricultural lime. It helps keep the fly population down as well as the smell. It also balances out the PH, chicken poo being acidic, lime being alkaline.


10 Years
May 31, 2009
Where I live in western Colorado, the soil is already somewhat alkaline as is the irrigation water. I think they measured the ph of the water to be around 7.8 once. Large expanses of salty soil are seen from the freeway. It comes from leaching of the geologic formations around here and agricultural petrochemicals.

I have three compost bins and sort of rotate things through, but as cold as it's been there hasn't been much composting going on. I use pine shavings for the house so it doesn't seem to take that long to break down.

However, if chicken poop is acidic, how much does it really change the ph of soil? I'd like to use this winters' collections in the garden and I have been using some of it as top dressings but I'm afraid of the heat from it. Will the alkalinity of my soil compensate for the acidity of the poop if I mix it in somewhat early, do you think?


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