Composting with Chickens

Back2Barefoot

In the Brooder
Mar 19, 2018
4
0
10
I have had chickens for about a year now. I have 6 of varying breeds. (I like a shmorgasborg)

I like having my chickens compost for me. I won't put apples, citrus or avocados in the compost but usually put coffee grinds and tea bags. My tea is primarily a mixture of sleepy-times but I wonder if caffeine is bad for them? Also, I usually put my lint in the compost but have been avoiding it now that I make the girls handle the "black gold" for me.

Any thoughts by someone who has composted with their chickens?
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
27,051
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
I give my gals lots of apples. The whole thing about apple seeds being poisonous: they would have to eat a LOT of apple seeds to be affected. I would put tea and coffee grounds in a separate compost (not in their run). I always make sure to pull the little staples out of my tea bags. I would also put dryer lint in a separate compost if using it at all. I generally don't b/c it likely has a lot of synthetic fibers in it.
 

Back2Barefoot

In the Brooder
Mar 19, 2018
4
0
10
We don't eat a lot of apples anyway, just didn't want the responses flooded with the NO foods. I was thinking of making a 2nd one or just using the grounds in the garden directly. So, I will take your advice. Especially because your lint remark makes sense because it takes forever to compost. Thanks!!!! :thumbsup
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
24,166
35,292
1,122
Colorado Rockies
The element in tea that is toxic to chickens is tannin. It won't be a problem in compost as it breaks down. LG has covered the other stuff.

The main danger in compost piles is if it's not regularly turned to prevent anaerobic conditions from developing which would allow natural botulism spores, present everywhere in soil, to develop into dangerous toxins. This happened to a couple of my deep digging Cream Legbars.

The spring had been a very wet one, and the compost pile didn't drain well. Lack of oxygen at the bottom added to the combination of factors, including rotting vegetables, that led to the botulism spores turning into toxin. Insects residing in this anaerobic zone become infected with the toxin and the chickens eat them. Acute illness followed quickly by death usually occurs. I lost one hen, but recognized the symptoms soon enough a week later to save the second one with antibiotics.

That's how I learned about the dangers of composting with chickens. You can do it safely, but you need to keep on your toes and keep the material well aerated.
 

Pat Mcaffee

Chirping
Jul 23, 2017
190
70
88
I have had chickens for about a year now. I have 6 of varying breeds. (I like a shmorgasborg)

I like having my chickens compost for me. I won't put apples, citrus or avocados in the compost but usually put coffee grinds and tea bags. My tea is primarily a mixture of sleepy-times but I wonder if caffeine is bad for them? Also, I usually put my lint in the compost but have been avoiding it now that I make the girls handle the "black gold" for me.

Any thoughts by someone who has composted with their chickens?
Typically I would try and shy away from tea and coffee grinds- I had the same question and some people warned me away from it as they have too much tanic acid for the birds to handle in the case they consume it. However, if you've been doing this for a while and have had no problem, I would just keep going and through in some wilted greens!
 

Foster's Freehold

Songster
6 Years
Jun 7, 2013
346
458
182
South Central KY
I toss it all in there, except citrus and dryer lint. This year when I build the coop, I'm also going to build a compost coop. A hoop coop with attached tunnel so the birds can leave the coop but still have a safe space to scratch around in the early mornings. I will be able to cover it with clear plastic for the winter so they have a clear area in nasty weather. Put compostables in one end, once a week turn those things about 3 ft down, add more compostables. The hope is to have ready compost at the end of the coop lol.
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
27,051
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
I hope to build a chunnel between my grow out coop and my big coop. The run is built in 4 bays that can easily be divided. So, this will provide more options for predator safe deep litter space for my flocks. Also want to build an other wheel barrow sized door to back end of the run so I can more easily add materials and remove compost for the gardens.
 

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