composting poo


9 Years
Jan 13, 2011
augusta, georgia
I guess this is the appropriate forum for this question since it is maintenance related...

My current "compost pile" is basically a hole in the ground that I dug. It's not very effective. I really don't want to buy one of those plastic bins that your turn with a crank.
I am wondering if I can build a simple frame out of 2 x 12 lumber (untreated) say maybe 4 feet by 4 feet and only 12" high which will basically be just the width of the board. Would this serve the purpose of a composter? Will it need a cover, like plywood?
I'll be throwing a lot of chick poo and pine shavings in it plus other normal compostable items.

I understand that I may have to replace it in a couple years due to not using treated wood. With the low cost, I'm ok with that. I'd rather not use treated wood since I'll be using all that compost in the garden and around fruit trees.


10 Years
Oct 8, 2009
My Dh made something like that for me last summer it was low enough that when the chickens free ranged they could get into it and they would turn it for me. I will be adding all of the stuff from my compost to my enlarged garden this year.


Real Men can Cook
11 Years
May 13, 2008
I think you should try and make it bigger, it won't hurt to have the extra space if needed. I used some 6' privacy fence with about 2' cut off the bottom. then just made a three sided bin. I have 2 of them side by side, one is always ready to use with one stewing, you really only need about 6 mo before it's ready and I hose it down regularly. Pretty simple and has worked great for me for years, plus it is only about 30' from the coop's.



9 Years
May 9, 2010
Cabot, AR
For compost to 'cook' it needs to be a thicker pile than 12 inches. You also need to add stuff like leaves and/or grass clippings, weed trimmings, vegetable trimmings, etc. I make my piles about 3 feet tall by 4 or 5 foot around, but I have lots of leaves, left over hay, and horse poop. Also, you can cover your pile with a tarp to protect it from too much water (like all the rain we've been getting) but it does need some moisture. The bigger the pile you have, the faster it will heat up and break down into compost. You can tell if it is big enough and has the right combo of stuff in it by the heat. After a few days you should be able to feel the heat of the compost breaking down. I made a big pile last fall and covered it with a tarp. A few days later I went to check on it, when I lifted the tarp it was almost hot enough to burn me! That pile cooked all winter and I just put it into my flower beds. You can google compost making and it will give you more info than I can give, but I do know the pile has to be a lot bigger than what you describe with more stuff in the mix than just poop and shavings. Oops, just reread where you said you would put other stuff in it too. So, I think just making it the pile bigger is going to make the difference.
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10 Years
Jun 17, 2009
Coastal NC
Most info on composting suggests 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet high and at a minimum 3 feet cubed.
This size helps the center of the pile to get hot enough to compost the piles contents.
We are very good at adding kitchen scraps and leaves and grass clippings to the pile and mixing and turning it.
We are able to make very nice compost that really helps our garden and herbs to grow and poduce for us.

I don't know how many chickens you are raising but we had 12 hens and a couple of roosters last year.
We used the three compost pile system because we composted as much yard and kitchen waste as possible in addition to the chicken poo & wood chips.
We generated a lot of chicken waste/bedding and sometimes it was a task trying to keep up with it, especially in the summer. We used wood chips for bedding.

Just do an internet search on composting to see a 3 pile set up. We used wooden pallets (search craigslist to get free or low cost ones) that my husband wired together. They worked great for us, were easy and inexpensive to set up, and we took them with us when we moved in December of 2010.

Just know that if you want to use the compost in your garden or flower beds, chicken waste/bedding needs to compost for about one year before you use it. If you use it sooner it will be too "hot" chemically and will eventually burn your plants up. I learned this the hard way.

This year we switched to wheat straw as bedding with good results. We used the deep litter method starting in the Fall and will continue until about May. All that composting wheat straw/chickie poo will go into our compost pile and we will allow it to breakdown even more before we use it. We like the deep litter method but it would work even better for us if our coop had a dirt floor.

Hope this helps

Knock Kneed Hen

California Dream'in Chickens
9 Years
Feb 15, 2010
So. Cal.
This is exactly what I do and it works wonderfully. My compost pile is about 15 ft. long. I put it outside the gate this time so I can put it on CL and let the neighbors haul it away.


8 Years
Feb 17, 2011
Mine is in the ground. It is and old septic and works well. I use plastic sheets to cover it after watering so it can cook. Reminds me I need to turn it.

Chicken Chat

12 Years
Jul 19, 2009
Southern Illinois
I'm just curious, does everybody allow their chickens near their compost piles? I had planned to construct some bins in their huge chicken yard since the majority of the compost will be coming from them and their bedding, but I read an article that you shouldn't let them near compost because they could eat toxic maggots and get botulism. The folks that posted, any experience?

Captain Carrot

8 Years
Jan 25, 2011
I have three compost bins. I made them out of scrap planks and pallets. Each one is 1 meter cubed about 3 foot cubed. You really do need them this high so that you can get a good heap going.

my front of the bins are not fixed, I can add a plank at a time, depending on how high the heap is.

The key to good compost is to add equal amounts of both green and brown material

Green material is, Kitchen waste, garden waste, grass clippings, manure from rabbit, chicken etc.

Brown material is, wood shavings, straw, cardboard, paper etc.

If the compost looks too wet, add some browns. If it looks too dry add some greens.

You don't need a roof, it will compost quicker when it's damp and warm. You'll still have to turn it over once a while, and give it a good watering every week or so. You can get products from garden centres to speed up the compost process or you can make your own, by ripping up some stinging nettles and sticking them in a large bucket of water, until they break down and smell like a tramps shoe. Then water the heap with this "nettle tea". Urine is also a great way of speeding up the process.

EDIT I can't keep mine away from the compost bins. They love scratching about in them looking for slugs and other bugs. I keep some chicken wire over the top of fresh compost, I don't want them to eat rotting food.
I haven't had any problems with them scratching in the finished compost though.
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9 Years
My No Mix/Turning compost method:

I use a 4'X4'X4' rounded "fence"made of Concrete rebar type wire, but I imagine you can use chicken/welded wire...etc. The trick is to place a 4" piece of plastic drainage tube (black, flexible and with a bunch of holes in it) of it in the middle of it. The drainage tube should stick up about a foot above the height of your pile. I then cover the top of the pile with black plastic (with a hole in the middle so that the drainage tube sticks out). Everytime I think of it, I just run the hose into the drainage tube. The drainage tube gives it a bit of air and moisture, the black plastic adds some heat to it.

I have four of them going, I live in a northern climate and get two nice batches of compost out of the two oldest ones every Spring.... Start filling those up again, add a bit to the ones already going.... and use the "older two" for next spring... and so on...

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