Composting Coop bedding and Chicken Manure

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by HenHoneyGirl, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. HenHoneyGirl

    HenHoneyGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 26, 2015
    Hi I don't know if it quite fits this section but oh well.
    I've been cleaning the coop a lot recently after we've had a little bit of worm trouble and now I have tons of hay/chicken manure. I started composting it and I just have a couple of questions to make sure I'm doing it right.
    I've heard a lot of people use composting "boxes" but I have so much stuff to compost and no time to build a box, will it compost proper in just a pile? It's not like a huge pile or anything just about 2 feet wide and four feet long so I'm able to turn everything every other day easily.
    It's started to smell a bit, is it supposed to smell a bit as it breaks down? There's also tons of flies around it, they shouldn't be a problem right? They're just helping break it down right?
    I read an article about composting chicken manure and it said it should be 3 parts chicken poo to 1 part like leafy greens and things like that to make sure the amount of nitrogen isn't too much but my poo is all mixed in with their bedding, grass hay. Do I need to put in leafy green stuff or will the grass hay cut down on the nitrogen? Most of our left over greens go to the chickens.
    Also I felt the inside of the pile a bit and it was pretty hot, I've read it's supposed to be hot though, should I worry about it smoldering or catching on fire? I've been keeping it damp though to help break down stuff as it's really dry here and if not wet it takes forever for something to degrade. Is there a specific temperature the pile needs to be?
    I know that's a lot of questions but hopefully someone can answer them! Thank you!!
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I'd suggest some research on composting in general and learning the 'brown' and 'green' ratio concept.
    advanced search>titles only>composting

    Hot is good, 160F will kill pathogens like E.coli and salmonella.
    Poop is very green, you want a lot of browns and yes, keep it moist but not soaked.
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    If you're using shavings as bedding, it will take quite a while for the chicken litter to break down. When you say it smells, does it smell like poo, or does it have a raw sewage smell. If it smells like poo, all is well. If it smells like something dead, or raw sewage, your C:N ratio is off, or it's too wet and has gone anaerobic. If that's the case, adding more carbon, and decreasing the moisture so that it's about as damp as a wrung out sponge should sweeten it up. If you need more N, you can add green matter, or even toss in some ammonia (unscented). Compost happens. You can facilitate it happening faster by providing the right mix, the right moisture, aeration, and make the pile big enough (minimum 1 cu. yd.) to maintain heat. Thank you for being a good chicken poop steward!

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