Composting Questions

Advertisement Purina Flock Layer


8 Years
Dec 7, 2011
I am gathering about a bucket of coop poop every 2 weeks. I don't want to waste it, so I have been keeping it. I am interested in learning how to best turn it into compost to use in our garden. I have a old large wooden bin that would be a good starting point, but I really don't have much of a clue as to how to start other than dumping it in the bin. We do not keep grass clippings and there are no dead leaves this time of year to add to it. Any suggestions on how to get started? Thanks for your input!!
The composting material is broken down into "greens" (high nitrogen) and "browns" (high carbon). You need a mix of both for decent composting. Pure chicken manure is mostly green, so you need some browns. You can get as technical as you wish about getting a perfect ratio, but just guessing will work too. It does not have to be that precise to work, it just may take longer. I guess and don't worry about getting it precisely right. Most things will contain some nitrogen and some carbon, so "green" or "brown" is relative.

Some browns might be shredded newspaper or torn up cardboard, maybe wool or cotton rags (need to be natural fibers), or dead plants (green plants are considered "green" but dead plants are "brown). Hay, straw, and wood shavings are browns. If your manure is mixed with wood shavings, you are probably good to go. Mine gets a lot of dead plants from the garden.

The process works by microbes using the energy from the nitrogen to break down the carbons. To introduce the right microbes, mix in a shovelful of active compost. Or just take a shovelful of topsoil and mix that in as a starter. Soil has organic material like grass trimmings in it that is constantly breaking down. Those microbes are there.

The mix needs to stay damp. You do not want it to be soaking wet. It needs air to work properly. If it stays soaking wet, the process will turn anaerobic and will get slimy and stinky. It will still break down, but you might not like the process. If the pile dries out, it will quit working. People that live where it is so dry what little grass will grow only grows in bunches instead of making a nice green carpet and they can drive for hours without a bug being squashed on their windshield can have a compost pile last for many many years without breaking down. It depends on your climate, but occasionally adding water might be a real good idea.

You can turn it if you wish. That will greatly speed up the process by mixing the greens and browns and by loosening it up so it can get more air. But if you just leave it lay it will break down. One advantage of turning it is that it heats it up. When the microbes get working, the interior of the pile will heat up a bunch and cook any weed or grass seeds in there so they won't sprout later. But that heat only lasts a little while and the stuff near the outside will not heat up so those seeds don't get cooked. If you turn it, it will heat back up.

Hope this helps a bit. Good luck!
I built a Bin out of Garden Wire and Left over rough Cut lumber, Mines 4x4x4, I set it in the woods a bit between the garden and the coop, I put the coop stuff in, grass clippings, house hold food waste and dead plants along with some hay and Rabbit droppings, I water it once in a while and turn it, well see what happens.
If you are saving both the manure and the bedding, or at least some bedding, we've found that combination of poop and carbon is a nice mix, just as it is. Some folks pick just the turds individually, I guess, so what they have is pretty much straight poop. In either case, compost it in a myriad of ways. There's more discussion and websites and blogs about composting than Carters has liver pills. You'll find the way best for you.

We don't do anything. From late September through February, we just spread it on the gardens soil. Since we garden for market, we never have all the litter we could use. During the planting/growing season, we just pile it up, awaiting first frost and the end of the growing season, and then spread both the "pile" and the new stuff all through the winter again. Awesome stuff, really. The tilth it produces is unmatched.

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