Composting chicken waste

tdrengenberg

In the Brooder
Jun 9, 2020
7
12
21
I've been using pine shavings in the nesting boxes and roost. About once every 6-8 weeks I replace the shavings. I toss the shavings and poop into my compost bin. Is that correct? I sure hope I'm not suppose to be separating chicken waste from shavings. That would be a lengthy and gross job. So my question is this: are pine shaving OK to be composted??
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
25,689
15,705
777
Southeast Louisiana
So my question is this: are pine shaving OK to be composted??
Absolutely. Different materials break down at different rates. Temperatures, moisture levels, greens to brows ratio, and how often you turn the pile all play a part in how fast so it can vary between us. But they will break down and I can't think of better use for them. I think it would be ridiculous to send them to a landfill if you can compost them instead.
 

Sally PB

Chirping
Aug 7, 2020
169
423
80
Belding, MI
Look up "Berkeley Method Hot Composting" and you will find a slew of articles about "hot" composting that will turn your chicken manure/pine shavings into usable compost in about 3 weeks.

Big caveat:
It's a lot of physical labor. You build a big pile of compostables (like 3x3x4 feet) and after the initial warm up period of about 4 days, you turn it every other day for two weeks or so.

I have pine shavings as bedding too. But while my finished compost wasn't like the bagged stuff you can buy, it was pretty darn well broken down. I'm on my third batch this summer. Never had so much compost! It's great!

And, if I do say so, my arms have gotten a LOT stronger. :celebrate But I am easily impressed.
 

3KillerBs

Crowing
11 Years
Jul 10, 2009
2,201
3,460
346
North Carolina Sandhills
I sure hope I'm not suppose to be separating chicken waste from shavings.
No, not at all!

The mix of chicken manure with shavings -- the "green", nitrogen-rich manure with the "brown" carbon-rich shavings -- is PERFECT for composting as is.

I have heard people complain that the shavings don't break down well, but I suspect that the problem is that they're cleaning the coop too often so that they don't actually have enough manure in the shavings to make the compost work properly.

I don't even go to all the work of frequent turning, etc. and get quite nice compost in just a few months of ignoring it. Granted, I live in a warm, wet climate. YMMV

I do find it best to seed the composting microbes into the mix by using some proportion of partially-composted leaf litter or pine straw in my coop bedding (also helps keep the shavings from packing down), and to balance the pH with some wood ashes and garden lime either on the bottom of the coop when I change out the bedding or sprinkled on each layer as I build the pile.

Speaking of building the pile, it's important to water in the layers as you build it and to make a rain-catching dish on the top so that it will stay moist.
 

Panhandler80

Chirping
Feb 11, 2020
312
347
90
NW Florida
Replacing every 6-8 weeks? Holy cow! I'm on my first ever flock. I have 21 roosting happily in a 64 square coop. Original pine shavings are on week 15 and still very dry with very little odor. I do try and mix it all up with a Long handled pitch fork once per week. They also are only 19.5 weeks old, so for the first 7 weeks or so they weren't putting out that much waste. Once spread even, they are probably 5-6 inches deep.

Plan on building a stand with two 55 gallon drums for turning compost at some point.
 

Dusty Chicken

Songster
10 Years
May 3, 2010
74
80
114
NW Washington
My Coop
For the last 10 years I have composted my pine shavings/manure mix, it is the best use for the material. But.... that being said the shaving actually use a lot of nitrogen to break down the wood fiber. That means that the compost will not have a lot of nitrogen to give to your soil when used. Make sure any compost that you use in your garden has broken down the shavings. Think of your compost as a soil amendment, not a fertilizer. I am coming to the realization that compost is great at enhancing moisture retention, friablity and microbial growth but a vegatable garden needs ALOT of nutrients to thrive. Compost alone will not give you what you need and compost with a high shavings (brown) component will only make it worse.
 

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