Do you compost your old shavings after cleaning the coop?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by firsthouse_mp, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. firsthouse_mp

    firsthouse_mp Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 13, 2009
    There is chicken poop and shavings and I am thinking that the veggie beds will love having this in there this Winter to decompose and add nutrients. I use the pine shavings.....any opinions on this? Will the shavings decompose before I start planting this March? We are in California, so no snow, just slightly colder during Winter.
  2. mississippifarmboy

    mississippifarmboy collects slightly damaged strays

    We compost ours but it takes alot longer than other compost. We compost ours and clean out the compost bins every spring and fall, run it through a screen and anything too large to go through the 1/4" hardware cloth screen goes back in the bin. Everything else goes on the garden. We do add leaves and other compost to it all year and turn it about one a week or so.
  3. annaraven

    annaraven Born this way

    Apr 15, 2010
    SillyCon Valley
    I am definitely composting everything. That's half the point of having chickens, imho. [​IMG]
  4. danielle82

    danielle82 A Good Egg

    Apr 27, 2009
    Tonasket Wa
  5. Harrietsmum

    Harrietsmum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 17, 2009
    Hamilton, New Zealand
    Yes, this evening I have just mounded up my Christmas potatoes with beautiful rich black compost. All that poop heats up the compost bin and the tiger worms love it.
  6. Absolutely YES!

    I am in my third year of putting my pine shavings in my garden. I turn my soil in the fall and in the spring. I grow fabulous veggies and fruit mostly due to the chicken and rabbit poo that has been put in over the years. I also throw straw to keep the weeds down and it also gets turned in the spring and fall. works great. All egg shells and food scraps go into the garden area as well so it is obviously a combination of all of the above but the shavings do contribute.
  7. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2008
    Do I compost my pine shavings after cleaning the coop?


    Frankly, I originally got chickens not for their eggs, but for their MANURE !

    You see, I'm an organic vegetable gardener, and I got tired of cleaning OTHER people's barns in order to get THEIR manure.

    So I got my chickens so they would produce manure (read that: natures best fertilizer) for my garden. And yes, the eggs are a welcomed bonus...

    OK, now here's what I do:

    I use the deep litter method so that I only clean once a year and have plenty of composted manure and pine shavings to work with. I deliberately clean the chicken coop sometime around Thanksgiving, so that the manure has plenty of time to "age" before next spring's planting season.

    Some people just pile the used pine shavings/maure in a huge pile near the garden and then let it sit there until it is time to spread it in March.

    That works. There is nothing wrong with that method.

    However, I have raised beds that I never till. I just keep adding back plenty of organic matter (fresh grass clippings, shredded leaves, small broken twigs, used coffee grounds, corn meal, too-old whole wheat flour, etc), and by doing this, I have excellent soil -- ready to plant in the spring WITHOUT TILLING!

    And since I am perpetually adding organic matter back into my well established and NEVER TILLED garden beds, it makes more sense to just spread the pine shavings/manure material on top of the garden beds. Just dump it, rake it to spread it out, and then let it sit there for the winter. After I spread the chicken manure mixture onto the garden bed, I take autumn leaves that I collect from my neighbors and I place them on top of the bed about 4 to 6 inches thick.

    Then I just let this stuff sit there through the winter.

    If it doesn't rain or snow, I'll go out there and water the beds about once a week -- just enough watering to get that organic top mulch about the consistancy of a wet sponge. And I'll use the rake to mix a little air into that mulch while I'm at it.

    If you want to learn more about this process, google the term "sheet composting." That is essentially what I'm doing here.

    Please note that I spread the manure/shaving mixture on the bed first, and then place a 6 inch thick blanket of autumn leaves on top. The manure/shaving mixture provides nitrogen for the beneficial microorganisms and earthworms living in your soil, and the earthworms that prefer to eat leaf residue will just tunnel through the manure/shaving mixture to get to the leaves anyway.

    You see, composting is just the gardener's use of God-given beneficial microorganisms and earthworms to break down organic matter into food that our plant roots can easily digest. But if you want to keep your microorganisms and earthworms fat, sassy, and on the job 24/7, you have to make sure that they are well fed, and have plenty of air and moisture. Their food is the chicken manure, the pine shavings, the autumn leaves, and any other organic material you might put on that garden bed. But just like humans, if they don't have air to breathe and water to drink, then they will still die (or at least slow down in the work of creating fertilizer for next year's garden). So make sure they get a watering every week -- even in the winter -- and use your rake to provide a bit of air in the mulch blanket -- and by March, you will have a plentiful supply of nature's BEST fertilizer right there on top of your garden bed, ready to dig and plant in!

    Good luck with your garden....
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2010
  8. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2008
    Oh, something else that I do:

    When I cut the grass, I catch my grass clippings with a bagger, and I dump them right there into the chicken run. I dump autumn leaves in the late autumn and winter as well.

    You know how the chickens eat up all the grass, and then leave the run bare? And how, after a good rain, the run gets all muddy?

    Well, if you keep adding either autumn leaves and/or fresh grass clippings into that run, it provides material to keep your chicken run from becoming a muddy mess.

    Of course, as an added bonus, the chickens can snack on the fresh grass clippings, or on the earthworms and other bugs that will inevitably begin to grow under that pile of grass clippings and autumn leaves over time. Chickens love to scratch into that material.

    Needless to say, they'll poop into the mixture too -- just like they poop onto the pine shavings inside their coop.

    But hey -- I don't mind! Over the course of the year, that material will compost just like the pine shavings inside the coop do. And I just dig that stuff out and add it to the garden beds too, at the same time I clean out the coop. Just gives me more of that wonderful, natural fertilizer for next year's garden.

    Hey, my chickens might be my pets, but I expect them to WORK for their chicken feed! No freeloading at my place!
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2010
  9. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2008
    Quote:You don't give your food scraps to the chickens, Chick Charm?

    I used to put my food scraps directly into the garden.

    But then I got the chickens, and figured out that alot of the scraps I used to put directly into the garden would help fill the "bellies" of my chickens and help cut the feed bill.

    So now, I give the chickens most of the food scraps. They eat them, "process them," and in a few days, the remains of those food scraps come out the "other end" of the chickens in the form of manure.

    I still get those food scraps into the garden -- they just make a slight detour on their way there, right into the crops and gizzards of my flock of birds....
  10. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2008
    If you think about it, the combination of livestock (chickens, but some other farm animals too, if you have enough land for them) and vegetable gardening is the PERFECT, SELF-SUSTAINING, and COMPLETELY NATURAL PROCESS for growing food.

    The simultaneous growing of chickens and vegetables can create a NEVER ENDING cycle.

    Here's how:

    You feed your chickens regular chicken feed plus kitchen scraps and treats. Plus you put pine shavings in the bottom of their coop, and maybe some grass clippings and/or autumn leaves outside in their run.

    Their little bodies digest that food you gave them and then drop their organic "output" (manure) into the shavings/grass/leaves.

    That manure provides what you might consider to be a "composting accellerent" that greatly speeds up the time needed to take those pine shavings/grass clippings/autumn leaves and turn it into a wonderful composted fertilizer. Because you are constantly feeding the chickens, and they are constantly producing more manure and adding that manure into the pine shavings/grass clippings/autumn leaves, this process is ongoing, 24/7/365 without any significant human intervention other than your feeding the chickens -- which you will do anyway.

    Eventually, you will shovel up the manure and dump it onto the garden. I do this in the autumn since I want the manure to age over the winter. (Fresh chicken manure is too "hot" to use directly in the garden. For safety's sake, you need to let it age at least 4 or 5 months.)

    By spring time, the manure has aged, so now it provides food for your vegetable crops. A much better food than any chemical company can provide you, and I might add -- and its FREE!

    The plant roots absorb the nutrients in that compost. For reasons I can't go into here, the composted manure is actually HEALTHIER for the plants than the stuff you buy in the store, and you will find that you will grow better crops with this stuff.

    The vegetable plants will not only provide you with food for your dinner plate, but most plants will provide you with plant residue that you can turn around and feed the chickens. For example, the broccoli plants in my garden right now not only provide me with that wonderful green floret like you buy in the store, but there are a bunch of green, outer leaves that I will not feed my family. But I WILL feed those outer leaves to the chickens. They LOVE THOSE OUTER LEAVES -- and it makes their egg yolks darker and the eggs healthier to boot.

    Once they eat those outer leaves -- and other vegetable scraps from the kitchen and the garden -- their little bodies will process that material and turn it into manure, which over time will create even more compost.

    Later, I'll take that compost and put it on my garden to provide food for the next year's garden.

    It's like this perpetual cycle: feed the chicken garden scraps and the chicken produces manure, the manure ages into compost, compost feeds the plants in the garden, the plants in the garden feed my family plus my chickens, the chickens eat the plant material and produce manure, and the cycle goes on yet again.

    Isn't nature wonderful?

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