Composting litter

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by pattycake, Jul 16, 2007.

  1. pattycake

    pattycake Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 7, 2007
    fingerlakes, ny
    What do you all do with the litter from your henhouse and run? I had planned on composting it, but there's *so much* and aren't you supposed to mix green stuff with the brown?? I'm using straw in the HH with pine shaving in the corner where they nest and roost, and I have to clean out the pine shavings really often.

    How long does it take pine shavings to compost?

    I just picture my yard being obliterated with piles and piles of litter! :eek:
     
  2. JackieK318

    JackieK318 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 29, 2007
    Missouri
    I made a compost bin out of landscaping stones, so it looks pretty from the side. I made it contour the hill going into the woods (like half of a paper cup sticking out of the ground. You'll need to mix lime and other materials in to get good compost and help break the waste quicker. If you do the deep litter method, it shouldn't be too bad of a pile. You might check out a soil book from the library. This might help you with composting the waste in a quick and effective manner.
     
  3. SandraChick

    SandraChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    I use the deep litter method with shavings. I clean out the hen house once-maybe twice a year. I compost the shavings and it gives me the best heat and often steams for a couple weeks after I add it to my compost.

    I also use it around my flour beds and trees directly on the ground. Many will say it's too hot...but I've had nothing but success.

    I highly recommend the deep litter method. Additionally, I don't use straw because it gives mites a safe haven during the day (they hide in the core of the straw--YUK).

    How many chickens do you have and how big is your HH?

    Sandra
     
  4. Wolfpacker

    Wolfpacker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 7, 2007
    Raleigh
    I might be incorrect, but I believe the "green stuff" adds nitrogen which your birds' droppings are filled with.
     
  5. cheeptrick

    cheeptrick Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 1, 2007
    New Hampshire
    I, too compost my deep litter in a makeshift compost bin (ok...its just a big pile behind the hen house)[​IMG], and was wondering when I could add it to my garden. I started one pile which has May, June, and part of July's henhouse litter and just started another next to this pile. I was hoping to add at least the first pile to my garden in the fall for composting during the winter. I figured I'd be able to add the 'uncooked' pile to my flower garden in the fall. Do the feathers that drop into the litter compost too?
     
  6. pattycake

    pattycake Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 7, 2007
    fingerlakes, ny
    Quote:I have 14 chicks in an 8X8 house, and an 8X20 run. I have straw in the house because I just kind of like straw -- I use it as mulch in the garden (though we just moved, and I won't have a garden till next year). Also, I like the way the poop falls through the gaps and collects in the bottom! I also like the smell.

    Unfortunately I can't use the deep litter method because the chicken door of the henhouse is too close to the floor! One of many design decisions I would change if I could -- my second henhouse will be flawless! [​IMG]

    Thanks, all, for the composting tips. I will definitely look into adding lime...
     
  7. cruelshoes

    cruelshoes Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 3, 2007
    Washington State
    Quote:I have this question as well. Our litter has lots of feathers in it. Do I need to try to get them out? I am thinking (and hoping!) not, since that sounds like a lot of work.

    We are putting in lots of new garden beds this summer, so I am looking forward to all the benefits that chicken poop provides. Having 2 kids (one still in diapers) I never thought I would be so looking forward to poop! [​IMG]
     
  8. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    The "green" you need in the pile is the chicken manure which adds nitrogen just as green plants do. The chicken manure provides enough nitrogen to breaks down the litter, although a lot of nitrogen does blow off as ammonia or leaches into the ground. Feathers compost just fine, anything organic will break down given enough time. Feathers break down rather quickly. Here are pictures of what I start with and what I end up with after 12 weeks, give or take a few weeks. It's not completely broken down, but is still fairly woody which makes a nice mulch. You can let it break down a lot further but I think a lot of the nutrients are lost into the ground at the the pile the longer you let it break down. I stir in a lot of leaves, grass clippings, and cuttings from the garden and shrubs, but it's not necessary, the litter/manure mix will break down on its own.


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  9. cruelshoes

    cruelshoes Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 3, 2007
    Washington State
    Thanks, Mac. Your pictures and description are just what I needed.
     
  10. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    Quote:I caught this just as we were about to cut the opening for the door and moved the door up... You could still box out an area on the floor around the hen door with 1x6 or 1x8 and just let the hens jump down and out the door.
     

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