Composting in the chicken run?

Discussion in 'DIY / Self Sufficiency' started by chicNlove, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. PrintedPerfect

    PrintedPerfect Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 19, 2014
    Nunnelly, TN
    Hi Tsiecz,
    Wondering if you could tell me more about using the leaves. I live in TN with a huge wooded area on my property. I raked and burned leaves for two days and only got about 1/3 of the property completed. Also, I just got some chickens and am setting up a coop for them (today) and hoping to add a compost pile in it. Are you saying the leaves can be used to layer the bottom of the coop?

    And, perhaps you may know - if I compost within the run do I need to fence that area off where they can't really spread it or does the whole coop become a compost pile? I don't want to make them sick.
     
  2. tsiecz

    tsiecz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just added it to my fenced in run. My run is 30'x 50' for 12 chickens. I wouldn't add it inside the coop unless they are totally dry. Other than that the chickens do the magic
     
  3. PrintedPerfect

    PrintedPerfect Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 19, 2014
    Nunnelly, TN
    Thank you! The land in this area is all wet, so unless we go through a drought where everything dries out the underlying leaves will have moisture and be somewhat wet. Although I thought moisture was needed for it to compost. ??
     
  4. Dumb Kluck

    Dumb Kluck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 26, 2014
    I am raising chickens in an area where a chemical plant explosion more than 20 years ago deposited Dioxin in a plume across the S & SE parts of town. We are on the edge of DO NOT EAT advisory levels.[​IMG]
    http://www.becnet.org/sites/default... 2004.pdf#overlay-context=dioxin-butte-county

    Can you imagine? And honestly we had no clue that Dioxin was dispersed widely here, or that our chickens would bio-accumulate this toxin and deliver it in our egg yolks so it can bio-accumulate in our fatty tissues. Thankfully I discovered this fact when researching and planning for our laying hens! Many of my free-ranging fantasies died that day.
    But it's not all bad news!
    Instead of dwelling on what we can't do... I keep looking for what we CAN do [​IMG]

    Keeping the girls off the native soils prevents exposure... of course I don't want to "keep" anything in a suspended cage 24/7 :/ and happy chickens need to scratch and peck.
    I purchased 8 & 10 month old dual purpose hens from well outside the exclusion zone (20 miles away LOL). Five hens occupy a 4'x5 'coop and attached 6'x12' run.
    My current scheme is to raise the soil level inside the run by 6-8" with compost(ing) fill to elevate the run above the native soil & facilitate drainage/runoff during storms. It starts with straw & or leaves heaped into the run as a deep litter and green wastes are added (chick manure, veggie scraps, garden weedlings, etc). It will need to be mucked out occasionally and refilled with fresh leaves/straw, at which point the "hot" compost & chick manure will go to a resting pile outside the run. Finished compost will be used in garden beds.
    I do have a 20x50 raised garden plot that is fairly secure (4' tall chainlink) & has beautiful "fill" soil brought in from afar, this is now the free-range-field-trip zone when weather and plantings permit.

    So composting up to 8 inches deep in the run is what I'm doing. The girls seem to like it so far. Any tips for preventing problems with a in-run compost pile? I'm thinking keep a dry to to green ratio 50/50 or slightly drier.
    In the coop itself & nesting boxes is 3-4" pine/cedar chips. Not sure if I should toss the coop litter into the run or start a separate pile? Guess it would depend on how messy the litter is compared to how wet/dry the composting run mix happens to be. I am not committed to the wood chips in the coop, even though I haven't had to do anything but add a few scoops in two weeks. I am considering other options (sand? pellets?) & just using a kitty litter scooper to tidy up when tending feed & water.

    Appreciate any input/opinion/insight/ or advise.
    jj
     
    Brooke215 likes this.
  5. Dumb Kluck

    Dumb Kluck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 26, 2014
    I have five hens. Using chicken math, we see that my flock will double in a very short period of time... no roo required.[​IMG] I am already drawing plans for the second coop run. I'm fairly convinced that hard packed Decomposed Granite base topped with 2 +/- inches of sand will work best for an open style coop/run combo. Regular garden access &/or sprouted grains to provide forage year round. This one will be larger closer to the house and gets great winter sun (which will require shading &/or misting in summer)... so ease of regular cleanings is crucial.

    I am having second thoughts about the composting coop/run, but I do need to elevate the soil level a few inches. I'm only two weeks and a good rainstorm into a couple straw bales... one bale to climb on and elevate feeder, the other fluffed all over the floor.
     
  6. Dumb Kluck

    Dumb Kluck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yep, this is the first and last time I will use straw in the attached run. It serves it's purpose for now and my hubby is pickin' up my wheelbarrow as I type ;)
    Turning the compost pile will be their part time day job instead.
     
  7. Blueline

    Blueline Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 8, 2013
    We didn't start out as 'composting' in the run, however that is what we have ended up with. Our girls did not like snow the first time they saw it. Would not get down on it willingly. After spending a whole day on the roosts in the run and hop/flying to the house back and forth we came up with a plan. Rake up leaves and throw them into the run. That cured the resistance to snow, well sort of, they wanted to scratch the leaves so much they scratched the leaves on top of the snow until it was all one. Leaves are a great entertainment medium for the girls. When they get noisy, we throw in more leaves, we keep leaves by the barrel full just for this reason. They never did get cozy with snow, every snow event we dumped a pile of leaves in the run which they promptly start scratching into oblivion. And even without snow they get noisy when we go outside, I think it's just a form of begging because many times when we got outside we are taking kitchen scraps to them.

    So for anyone with leaves, give em to the girls, they will love you for it. I also think there are bugs of many kinds in the leaves, just another treat for the girls.

    Charlie
     
  8. KlingKlan

    KlingKlan Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 29, 2014
    Lancaster County, PA
    Well this brings up a question for me. We are so new to chicken raisng that we don't even have the chickens yet lol. We have cleared the ground and roped off the area where we will put the coop/run and have set up cinder blocks to elevate the coop (which we have yet to build, thinking of using skids).

    Anyway, to the point; we have a rather large pile of yard and garden debris behind our shed. We weren't sure what exactly to do with it, so I'm wondering if we can just spread that out over the ground in the run?! It has every kind of weed in it, corn stalks and other veggie/flower garden "waste", along with leaves from last fall. If we can use that for the run it would save us money on straw, hay, wood chips or other such ground cover. Seeing as we are on a very tight budget, this would be fantastic all the way around.

    So what say you BYC peeps? Yay or nay?
     
  9. RichnSteph

    RichnSteph Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 25, 2014
    Adkins Texas
    If it was me I'd for sure throw that pile in the chicken run. The birds will enjoy scratching and digging for bugs/seeds and they'll break down that pile into compost much quicker than it would in a bin or pile that you turn once a month. If you have enough of a pile you can use half in the run now and then in a few months rake out what they've broken down already and put in the other half. Just be sure to start another pile of scraps and things so that you can rotate a few times a year. Before you know it you'll have a lot of great compost for your garden. Don't forget to take pictures!

    RichnSteph
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. KlingKlan

    KlingKlan Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 29, 2014
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    Thanks sooo much! I'm sure I have enough for 2 seperate spreads and plenty more coming. We rent here, but the landlords are VERY laid back about the property and what they alow us to do with it. We have just over 1/8 acre and it was extensively landscaped by the previous owners, while it's fantastic to look at and even smell, it is a LOT of work to keep up with. The idea of having chickens just seems to be getting better and better! What other "pet" can you have that will reduce insects in your garden, turn your yard waste and kitchen scraps into organic fertilizer while getting nutrition for themselves, reducing your cost for feed AND give you delicious, all natural, organic eggs to feed your family and friends!?! And seriously, we LOVE eggs in my family, but they are so expensive it's a hardsip to have them as often as we'd like.

    Also thanks to the OP for creating this thread!! It's been a big help to me as a "new egg" [​IMG]
     

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