composting with chick(ens)


In the Brooder
Mar 26, 2015
I am planning to compost with my chickens and was wondering if anyone knows at what age the chicks can start to be 'self sufficient'?
Such a cryptic statement leaves a lot open to interpretation and taken literally, I am prompted to ask, "compost chickens?"

So, how about a LOT more information? Compost in relation to chicks? Do you want to know when the chicks can be turned loose on a compost pile?

Draw us a picture with words : chicks, how old, where you live, what your set-up is, what is your goal, overall plan.

Then ask the question you want answered.
Gosh just reread my post and can see exactly what you mean!

Here's attempt 2.

I am hoping to have chickens make compost from our garden and kitchen scraps. We are almost done with the run which will measure 10ft x 10ft. Our climate is tropical, very warm with heavy rain. Hot days can go up to 39C and nights are never less than 26C. Rain however can exceed 10cm per hour.

The 6 chicks are just over 2 weeks old. They are being kept in a dog crate (120cm x 80cm) and I was wondering when they will be old enough to not need supplementing with chick/en feed?
I assume you plan on letting them free range mostly, as opposed to being kept entirely penned up? If they free range, in a tropical climate such as yours, they will have a feast of vegetation and seeds and mostly bugs that they wouldn't need much in the way of chicken feed, maybe just enjoying some scratch grain occasionally.

If you pen them up in the run most of the time, they will be dependent on poultry grains, that's a balanced feed that has all the nutrients they would normally be getting if they free ranged.

So, the answer is, they will be able to be self sufficient when they are close to being full grown around six months old, to be safe, or around the time the first eggs appear. It's wise to keep them penned up until after they begin to lay anyway because they would be likely to lay every where but places easy to find the eggs. Penning them up gets them in the habit of laying in their egg nests.

At two weeks, they are still much too small to be able to find all the food they need for proper growth on their own. A mother hen usually teaches them about foraging for food, so they have to learn on their own, and that takes time. Besides, they are so little, they'd likely be picked off by cats, dogs, air predators mostly.

They will be happy to help you on your compost. Chickens adore digging in compost more than just about anything. Where is it you live?
Chickens need quite a lot of space to be able to forage for enough food to sustain them. It's certainly possible with a chicken tractor, but it has to be continually moved to fresh areas or the space it occupies will be quickly diminished in both plant and insect populations. Even with your tropical climate, your problem will be lack of space, so you will probably need to supplement your chickens diet with a commercial feed.

Permaculture is a marvelous concept, but to have it serve all your needs as that man is describing, it requires acres of land.

I'm not sure I understand how chickens can consume compost. They do a terrific job of contributing prodigious amounts of poop to compost, but getting anything out of it except insects doesn't seem possible. Chickens need plant matter and seeds as the main part of their diet. Insects alone won't sustain them.

I have quite an extensive composting system, but all my chickens get from it are bugs. My chickens also have a lot of land to roam, but it's arid here, not tropical, so they require that most of their diet come from commercial grain feeds. I think you'll find you'll still need to provide feed to at least supplement their diet.

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