Composting with/for chickens???Anyone doing this system?

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by farmguy2007, Jan 5, 2013.

  1. farmguy2007

    farmguy2007 Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 31, 2012
    I have been wanting to start a compost pile for sometime and have been researching somethings on it. Is anyone using there chicken manure/bedding for composting? Also how about a system to feed the some of the worms from the pile to the chickens? I have read "Gardening With Chickens" by Jessi Bloom and she touches base on this but im looking for some in depth info.. Any help or advice would be much appricated!! Thanks in advance fellow chickeneers!!!
  2. Mumsy

    Mumsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yes. I started my compost pile the day I started the garden and cleaned the barn for the first time this last Spring.
    I started by digging a shallow hole behind the potager garden on the other side of its fence.
    As I weed or harvest or prune, that is the first layer. I cover it with a few shovelfuls of surrounding dirt. As I remove litter from the barn (wheelbarrow at a time) I layer. This process is repeated weekly. The compost pile slowly grows. I don't build it vertically but go horizontally along that back fence. In late fall it is finished. The rains of Fall and winter do the job of breaking it down. I maybe turn the pile as it grows once or twice.

    I just potted up some old European Roses and used the finished compost. It was loaded with large worms and nearly completely pure rich decayed soil. Just a few chunky pieces here and there.

    I keep hard wood brush and prunings in a separate pile to encourage wild birds.

    I use the deep litter system in my barn. I start with pine shavings, grass hay, raked up leaves from the yard, and Sphagnum peat moss. I add very little of this to the compost pile and usually put it directly on my raised beds and raspberry row. The little I put in the compost pile helps break down the veggie matter. The DL when removed from the barn is already composting and full of good bacteria and nematodes. It never smells like ammonia but smells like rich earth. I feed my flock Fermented Feed.
    Brooke215 likes this.
  3. farmguy2007

    farmguy2007 Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 31, 2012
    So you just use the ground itself, i was looking into these vermiculture called the Worm Factory 360. I also would like to use four pallets squared together to make an area for a large compost pile. I like your ideas of using the ground, seems to keep it simple which i think is best.
  4. Mumsy

    Mumsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yes. I've have used the pallet system in the past. It was a pain. I garden an entire 1/2 acre. Orchard, perennials, roses, shrubberies and a raised bed intensive potager. I have a small flock of about a dozen chickens. That all generates a lot of stuff. The enclosed compost system using pallets is too small for my needs and even if I made it larger, turning the pile within that is an awkward hassle.

    By starting on the ground itself in a depression you are starting with garden worms and all the beneficials from the get go. By shallowly covering each layer of the fresh compost (grass clippings, kitchen waste, leaves, weeds, manure, ect) you are jump starting the process with each shovel ful of dirt. As the compost pile grows I keep a trench near the edge. This is usually where I take the dirt from. This trench acts like the border. It also defines my pile and makes it easier to scoop or rake it if that is needed. A boundry trench I guess you could call it.
    As the layers of fresh stuff and dirt grow you get a finished product much sooner than waiting for a pile of just garden and barn waste to decompose.
    By using pre-composted deep litter from my chickens, the pile gets even more benefit.
    I turn my compost pile during the summer when there is less rain and if I've added some difficult to break down things like spent produce from the vegetable garden. I don't do it often though. By keeping the pile low and moving it along like a long slender mound it breaks down quickly. I never add woody stuff. Like tree branches. I will rake up fir needle litter under a stand of big Douglas firs in my yard and add those. Anything organic.

    I come from a long line of nurserymen and women. My Great Grandfather grew the first peach orchard in Oklahoma in 1870. My Grandparents owned a nursery from 1939 until 1960. All of my family built their compost piles using nothing but garden dirt to start it off with. If you have dirt to add to the pile, you won't have exposed rotting egg shells, cantaloupe rinds, and manure to attract flies.
    My finished compost pile is quite long. At one point a couple months ago raccoon started frequenting it and digging out choice bits. I put a low electrical two wire fence around the whole pile about four and eight inches high. No more raccoon visits. I tested it by putting a couple pork chop bones on top of the pile. They were still there a few days after putting the wire up. Not even the crows like that electric wire. Squirrels will rummage around in it on occassion but they are not a problem to me. This system might not work for some neighborhoods but it is easy and odor free. Results are quick. I can take a fork to that pile right now and find LOTS of worms. In any place I choose to look.
    Brooke215 likes this.
  5. farmguy2007

    farmguy2007 Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 31, 2012
    Interesting insight. I really like your system it sounds very logical and seems like it is doing wonders for you! I will try this system this spring. Mine will be much smaller than yours being that we only have a 1/2 acre or lil more total to work with(thats including 1400sq ft house and small garage.) My spring plan is to have a garden actually for the chickens to forage about in, while having some of our own garden fenced off for part of the year for harvest purposes. We already have pear,walnut,and pawpaw trees that have been on the property for 30 or so years so we have a small start on that but I would like to add cherry and peach trees this year along with a very large herb garden. All this i hope will be able to utilize our compost and also help create things to go in the compost area! Thanks again Mumsy big thumbs up on your advice
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I use the pallet compost bin. It's simple, easy to contain and till over every few months. Our kitchen scraps and chicken litter all goes to it along with the growing seasons culls from veggies. Well, those scraps and veggies that aren't given directly back to the chickens that is.

    The hardest part is screwing the bin together. You want to use the quality oak/hard wood pallets so you need to predrill everything. From six pallets I use the laths from one to infill the others. This means you need to unassemble some laths on the keeper pallets to infill those over large gaps. All uprights are inverted and the gate is held in place by two large eye hooks (yes you've got to predrill those too). In general it's airy with the bottom pallet and four sides. Breaks down quickly especially if you till it at least once every two months. Easy to do by unhooking the front, set to side, then mix it all up before put front back on.

    All this goes to my raised beds garden and the least composted is hand tilled in for black oil sunflower bed.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
  7. mdbtalon

    mdbtalon Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 14, 2013
    My thoughts on composting are if you have to buy a kit or something then you are doing it wrong (I realize there are exceptions especially for those with no real "yard", or with pets that like to dig through scraps). Even in those cases you are probably best off using very inexpensive containers and things rather than buying specialized "kits". It is really hard to do composting "wrong". Of course I do know of someone who sprayed bug killer all over there compost because they did not like all the "bugs and things" in their compost.... so not impossible to do wrong I guess :)
  8. Mumsy

    Mumsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    I agree.
    If meat scraps and bones are added you can also run the risk of attracting raccoons and rats to your pile and your neighbors might have issues. Not to mention those critters are also undesirable vermin to attract when you're raising poultry.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  9. aggiemae

    aggiemae Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 18, 2012
    Salem Oregon
    I compost in heaps that will become new beds the next season. I know they are ready to go when I see worms in the soil and squash and tomato seed start to sprout.

    I also have a tumbler I made out of a 55 gallon drum for fast compost and a tall plastic bin that I keep right next to the coop because it's a great way to get grubs for your hens. I fill it with the stuff the hens don't eat, grass, shaving and chicken poop. I just wait until it's hot, thern get it wet and leave the top off for a few hours. A few days later there are millions of larvae. Leaving shells of cantaloupe or small watermelon half shells with a few eggs shells inside right on top and they become little bug nurseries that you can pick up like bowls. Gross for us...yummy for chickens.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  10. Smithyard Farm

    Smithyard Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2012
    Pembroke NH
    love your pic aggiemae! very cute puppy!!!

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