Composting Chicken Poop

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by gotweim, Apr 23, 2011.

  1. gotweim

    gotweim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi`

    I plan on starting to compost my chicken poop and shavings for use in my garden next year.....seems like I'm too late for this season! [​IMG]

    This is what I was planning on doing....please let me know if I'm on the right track....


    Daily I clean under my roost, I was going to add this to the pine shavings that I clean out of the coop every couple of weeks. I have a large 55 gallon pickling bin. I was going to add the poop and shavings to the bin and then turn it on it's side once a week and roll it to mix everything up.



    The 2 things I'm not sure about...

    1) should I add water to the bin? if so, how often and how much?
    2) should I drill any air holes in the bin? if so, how many?


    Thanks so much!!
     
  2. nettiesnest

    nettiesnest Out Of The Brooder

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    [​IMG] I have a friend that uses it in her garden and I was planning on asking her thoughts because I've had a few ?'s on that.


    Quote:
     
  3. Chicken Chat

    Chicken Chat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've done a lot of research into this question for several months now, I'm a gardening nut and putting some new raised beds in the garden this year and wanted to recapture the litter waste from the chickens. Regarding your bin, yes, drill air holes in it. The compost needs to breath, you will need more holes than you think. If it can breath, it will break down sooner. If you turn it everyday, it will break down even faster. Chicken poo is high in nitrogen and will give the compost a boost. You need to make sure that you add a little more brown(dried grass, wood chips, straw) than you have green (poo, veg scraps) or you will have a slimy mess. You want the compost a bit moist, dry compost just sits there. BTW, it is recommended that chicken poo needs to compost for a least a year before you use it on your plants.

    Last fall I converted a rain barrel into a turnable compost bin on an axis. I stopped turning it during the cold winter months but now it has decreased in volume by half and the majority is broken down into dark loveliness with a few identifiable pieces in it. I also have three 5 foot wire bins (fencing that I formed into circles and secured with zip ties) that hold this springs stuff (clean out from 3 coops) I found the best size is about 4 feet wide. It breaks down the fastest. The size keeps the internal heat high for composting.

    Keep in mind that your wood chips will take longer to break down than a straw litter. Good luck composting, I love it.

    I wish I could spell......
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011
  4. Laigaie

    Laigaie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Before now, I hadn't heard anyone suggesting an "at least" composting time for chicken manure of more than 120 days. What makes you say "at least a year"?
     
  5. RaZ

    RaZ Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Two parts green and one part brown
    Makes the compost turn to ground
    Add some water and some soil
    Turning is the only toil.

    Sung to the tune of Twinkle, twinkle litte star. [​IMG]


    I think the confusion with time to use compost comes from whether you actively work it or if it just sits. Turning the pile or tub, keeping it moist and aerated speeds up the process and 3 months is usually a good rule of thumb. If you do nothing to the pile except add to it, then you should wait for a year and then take only from the bottom of the pile.

    Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011
  6. Chicken Chat

    Chicken Chat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I read it on a couple of composting websites and in a book which had a chart, but they were specifically talking about piles, no mention on the frequency of turning. It said to wait for at least a year so it doesn't burn your plants, so I've erred on the side of caution. So your saying 4 months is gold? I like that idea better, you don't have to sit on it as long. Have you used chicken poo at 120 days on plants without burn?
     
  7. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

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    "At least" how long depends on how you compost it and how you use it after.

    If you are using manure mixed with pine shavings, it also depends on how high the manure percentage.

    So say, you have pure, unadulterated chicken stuff. You'd need to pile that up and let it sit a good few months at least. Even then, I'd turn it under at least 30 days before planting.

    Ok, so lets say you have a low percentage of poop in your shavings. You can actually put a thin layer right on your flowerbeds then water.

    Now, lets say you've got a pretty messy bunch of shavings and you want to compost it then turn it into the garden. If you want something that you will turn under then plant right away, you might just need to let it sit a year but not because of the chicken poo, but rather because the wood takes so darn long to break down, especially if it was fairly dry when you piled it up.

    Ideally, you want a compost pile to be wetted about like a sponge that you've squeezed out. It takes some mixing and watering to really get it like that before piling. Oh sure, you can pile it up then turn on the hose but if it's dry, you'll end up with soaking wet spots and dry spots. Composting that way, yep, I'd let it sit a year.

    IF, however, you make sure it has the right amount of moisture, then a good carbon (shavings are almost nothing but carbon) to nitrogen (oh yeah, chick poo!) ratio, it won't take that long. The pile will get really really hot within a couple days and cook. After it cools, you'd turn it by either breaking it down, mixing, then piling back up, or what most people do is just move the pile over (making sure it has the right moisture content). Go through the cooking/turning cycle a few times and you'll be close to having that black gold in a fraction of the time it takes by just piling and leaving it. Plus the heating destroys pathogens and weed seeds. You need a LOT of poo in those shavings to make this happen and it needs to be aerated by mixing, then running rebar or something through the top of the pile in a few places after a week or so.

    I realize saying "it depends" is unhelpful so I've tried to give you some guidelines. Composting can be an art, or you can just pile the stuff up somewhere and let it sit for a year. If you use it as mulch you can use it faster than if you are turning it under.

    Then there is compost tea. I put the scrapings from the poop board in an old pillowcase and let it brew in a 5 gallon bucket of water a few days. Best to use a cheap aquarium pump to bubble in there so you keep anerobic bacteria from growing but you know, even if you just let it stagnate you'll still have something the plants can eat. Dilute it so it looks like strong tea. As soon as it's "done" it is dark as coffee so you want to water it down enough to keep from burning the plants.
     
  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    We market garden. I simply haul the coop litter out to the garden from late September (last crops) throughout winter until March. Run the tractor/plow/field cultivator over it and done. We begin planting here around May 15th. Here's a little video link I made last June/July on YouTube.

    During the growing season, I simply stock pile the manure. Use the front end loader to pick up the pile and spread in fall and the cycle repeats itself.

     
  9. nuchickontheblock

    nuchickontheblock Chillin' With My Peeps

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    All Winter I clean out the poop and wood shavings regularly from our coop - probably 4 parts shavings to 1 part poo. I put that into a pile all winter near to a very large Spruce tree (about 30 feet high) and just spread it around the tree trunk this week. I thought the tree would be hardy enough to handle it if the nitrogen was a little strong. Then I figured next fall, I would rake that (with accumulated pine needles added) and spread it on my raised beds and do the same thing again next Winter.

    Do you think this is a good plan???


    I tried the compost tea last year, but put the poo directly into the water -- it was really gross. Thanks for the tip about the pillow case. Think I'll give it a whirl. How often do you use it? Would this be a one shot deal in the Spring, or every couple of weeks during the growing season??
     
  10. VelvettFog

    VelvettFog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I read it on a couple of composting websites and in a book which had a chart, but they were specifically talking about piles, no mention on the frequency of turning. It said to wait for at least a year so it doesn't burn your plants, so I've erred on the side of caution. So your saying 4 months is gold? I like that idea better, you don't have to sit on it as long. Have you used chicken poo at 120 days on plants without burn?

    A great way to test your compost pile is to plant a few radish seeds in some of the compost -- if the seeds, sprout - and then brown-burn - you have too much nitrogen, let the stuff cook longer.


    VF
     

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