Grass clippings

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Carter57, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. Carter57

    Carter57 Out Of The Brooder

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    I keep grass clipping in the chicken run. It is now 10 X 10 and may grow to 30 X 10 soon. I rake the clippings about once a month and put it new clippings the girls love them.
    What can i do with old clippings. How long do they need to compost before use?
    Thanks
     
  2. Velvet Hairpiece

    Velvet Hairpiece Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just started using grass clippings in the run, and it's great so far! They seem to enjoy scratching and pecking through it, and it's helped with flies and smell so far.

    As far as composting, I think it depends on how you compost. If you turn the pile a bunch you could use it in under a year, but if it just sits in a pile with no air circulation I bet it would take a year, if not more, to fully compost and cool down so that it doesn't "burn" whatever you put it on. Composting is important to kill any "bugs" (bacteria, and other potentially unhealthy things) before integrating it in with your crops or other beds. Plus the nutrients are more readily available composted vs. not.
     
  3. saladin

    saladin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Actually, the biggest problem with adding grass clippings to the compost is seeds: weed and grass seeds.

    Personally, I wouldn't add it; unless you want a lot of extra work in the garden next year (potentially).
     
  4. Velvet Hairpiece

    Velvet Hairpiece Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:If it's allowed to properly compost, it will destroy those seeds, literally burning them.
     
  5. hannakat

    hannakat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you mix it with leaves and other compostables (apple peals, old lettuce, onion skins, etc.) in your compost bin, it should only take a few months to become garden ready.

    Grass gathered from mowing has no seeds since you cut the grass way before it gets tall enough to sprout the seeds...same with weeds. Between that and the chickens eating any seed they find, there's no weed problem to worry about!
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    First, a warning. Try not to give them real long grass clippings. When they eat grass while foraging, they bite off fairly small chunks. If they eat long grass clippings, it can give them an impacted crop by getting twisted in their crop where it cannot pass on to the gizzard where it is ground up. The recommendation us to have the clippings under 2" in length. It doesn't happen that often, but chickens do die from an impacted crop. if you use a mulching mower, they usually get chopped up enough. Or run them through two or three times. Or mow often enough that it is not an issue.

    Now that the public service message is out of the way, how long to compost them before you use them depends on a few things. Part of it is how often you turn them, part is how moist you keep them. You don't want them soaking wet but they need to be slightly damp. If they dry out, it can take years for them to break down. Part is how hot it is. They break down faster in the heat than if they are frozen. It makes a difference if they are piled on the ground or if you have one of those barrel composters you can turn. If they are turned and have the right mix of carbon and notrogen, they will heat up and cook the seeds. But if they are piled in the the ground and turned, it is really hard to get all seeds cooked.

    In short, there is not easy answer to your question. If they are kept damp, you have regular weather, you have a reasonable mix of the carbon and nitrogen materials (called browns and greens although they have nothing to do with color), and turn them a couple of times, you can probably use them in three months or so. If you have them in a barrel composter and keep everything in ideal conditions, you might be able to use them in as few as three weeks. If you are like me and don't work at it too hard, it could take 6 months or more.

    Good luck!
     
  7. saladin

    saladin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:If you live in the South then there is a good chance the grass is Bermuda or a Bermuds derivative; thus, when cutting the grass it often does have seed in it.

    All my life I've heard if the compost heats up enough it will destroy seeds. I just don't believe that with Bermuda. The way we take care of our fields is to burn them. The fire helps to de-hull the seeds so that they will germinate without going thru a winter. I guess it is possible that a compost bin can kill those seeds; I'm just not willing to take that chance.
     
  8. saladin

    saladin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is one of those post where the region of the country in which you live makes all the difference in how you operate. I believe.
     
  9. cottagechick

    cottagechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Speeking of long stringy things...what about corn husks?
     
  10. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

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    Quote:If you live in the South then there is a good chance the grass is Bermuda or a Bermuds derivative; thus, when cutting the grass it often does have seed in it.

    All my life I've heard if the compost heats up enough it will destroy seeds. I just don't believe that with Bermuda. The way we take care of our fields is to burn them. The fire helps to de-hull the seeds so that they will germinate without going thru a winter. I guess it is possible that a compost bin can kill those seeds; I'm just not willing to take that chance.

    St Augustine grass, which everyone but Golf courses have here, won't have seeds unless it's been stressed to the point it does seed. Likely it's way past that stage by now. I'll tell you though, grass from possible seeds that might be in the grass clippings is pretty darn low on my list of "things to be afraid of" from organic matter. Mulch well and weeds just don't happen so much anyway.
     

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