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Composting in the run to provide food

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by LoneCowboy, Aug 17, 2008.

  1. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy Songster

    Aug 26, 2007
    Longmont, CO
    I was reading in the latest edition of Backyard Poultry about the rising cost of feed and it was suggested ways to compost in the run. One lady adds about 12" of organic matter to her run and in about a year she removes the dirt and puts it in her garden. They suggested using hay, straw and manure.

    So, this is what I'm thinking of doing and want your input before I do it. I've found several things in these magazine suggestions that I don't aggree with and wondered if maybe you have too thats why I'm asking before doing [​IMG] . Anyway, I was thinking of layering hay, straw and leaves in my runs about 12" deep or less, before winter. Then letting the girls spend the winter digging and turning the mess looking for seeds etc. I'm hoping that this will provide them with some feed and something to do so they don't pick on each other.

    My concern is that I remember reading the tread on the inpacted crop that they had to do surgery on and they pulled out a bunch of hay from the crop. Is this a worry? Should I go ahead and do this or is it a bad idea?

  2. Jilara

    Jilara Songster

    Aug 4, 2008
    Bay Area, CA
    My run, a former dog run, had a compost heap in it long before I thought of chickens. We just left the compost in there when it was made over into a chicken habitat. It's essentially yard waste, not what a lot of folks think of as "compost" which is essentially kitchen garbage, and I think that's a big difference. I NEVER allow things like banana peels, bones or meat products, fats and oils, etc. in my compost. The only things that go in from the kitchen are coffee grounds and stem ends off veggies. It's mostly leaves and prunings. And it's chock full of all sorts of yummy bugs, and sometimes even a salamander or two, based on what I've seen when turning it. It's really healthy compost!

    I would be extremely careful about how much manure is in compost. It usually has a lot of ammonia and could be nasty on chickens' feet. If it's still at the point where it's (ahem) aromatic, I'd keep them away from it. Hay, straw, and leaves sounds fine, though.

    I know there is concern over earthworms, and the possibility of chickens getting parasites from earthworms. I regard this as just one of life's possibilities, like whether you let kids do normal kid things, even though they risk getting hurt. Chickens who free range eat everything, and I know my yard is full of worms (which is where the ones in the compost came from, I'm sure), so am I going to just keep them in a run and wrap them in cotton wool and deny them a chance to be old-fashioned chickens?

    My chickens LOVE their compost! They till it over constantly, and there is instant excitement if they find something big and interesting. All the little sprouts get instantly consumed, too. It's not just food, it's entertainment, for them and for me as well.
  3. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy Songster

    Aug 26, 2007
    Longmont, CO
    Thanks. I don't think I'll put any manure in their compost, I think they will add plenty of their own. I just don't want to do anything that will hurt my chooks. Mostly worried about hay and straw.
  4. EliteTempleton

    EliteTempleton Songster

    Aug 9, 2008
    SW MI
    I read that surgery post to.

    I am new to all of this but I would not use straw just due to reading that thread.

    However I think hay would be different, as its still green and such, so I would think it would be easier for them to digest even if they did take to eating it.

    From what I have read about composting you should not put bones(unless you crush them to almost a powder), oils, fats, meats, etc that would attract fly's or vermin in your compost and that makes sense to me. However, unless the meat actually spoiled you could just cook it up and slice it into small chunks, I would think they would love it.

    I know many people do have their chickens turn their compost for them, so I guess I don't see why not have it right in the coop with them. Only that you would need to shovel it out and let it set for a while before you used it so that some of the nitrogen is filtered out or you can "burn" your plants. So I read.

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