How to determine quality of different types of compost?

Percheron chick

Crowing
Apr 12, 2013
4,255
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351
Boulder, Colorado
In addition to keeping waste out of the landfill, dear wife and I also enjoy the idea that unwanted leftovers, slightly expired food, and food we just did not like the taste are all pretty much welcomed by our chickens. We used to throw out half a loaf of bread each week because it would get old before me finished the loaf, now dear wife buys a fresh loaf when she wants and the chickens get to enjoy the older bread that was left over from the previous week. If we make too much food for leftovers, we just give it to the chickens guilt free and let them turn it into eggs and compost for us. In many ways, chickens are better at cleaning up food scraps then we had a dog. Chickens eat just about anything.

:thumbsup I watched a YouTube video sometime last year and the guy there was saying that he thought every restaurant should have a small chicken pen out back to dump their food waste. That would significantly reduce the food waste heading to the landfills and the chicken pens could produce fresh eggs, compost, and meat for the restaurant. I suppose current health laws would make that impossible for most places, but I still liked the idea if feasible.
100% behind this. Chickens are first and foremost for me, a way to improve my stewardship to the land. They keep me from using perticides and reduce what i send to the landfill. No food items go in the trash. Even chicken bones go to the chickens to be picked clean then added to the compost pile. I wish everyone who keeps chickens would benefit from what they can contribute to the planet.
 

Red-Stars-in-RI

Songster
Mar 24, 2014
704
1,330
236
Rhode Island
Glad to hear that you are on the mend. It takes time to fully heal, so take it slow and steady as you recover.
Thank you...trying to break my usual habits and be a good patient for once. Getting a few scoops of compost turned felt good, though.

All my chickens are the same year/batch, so I don't have that variable to consider. But, I am learning that egg production is reduced by feeding compost, food scraps, etc... I got more eggs in the middle of winter at -20F when the chickens were basically on commercial feed 24/7 than I am getting now in the summer months with temps in the 70-80's F but the chickens are eating anything and everything before they touch their commercial feed.
Do you have a light in your coop in winter? I find daylight hours are the biggest impact on laying, and I see a significant ebb and flow throughout the year.

I'm sure I see some drop below "optimal" egg production, but even if it's 50%, I'm OK with it.

In addition to keeping waste out of the landfill, dear wife and I also enjoy the idea that unwanted leftovers, slightly expired food, and food we just did not like the taste are all pretty much welcomed by our chickens. We used to throw out half a loaf of bread each week because it would get old before me finished the loaf, now dear wife buys a fresh loaf when she wants and the chickens get to enjoy the older bread that was left over from the previous week. If we make too much food for leftovers, we just give it to the chickens guilt free and let them turn it into eggs and compost for us. In many ways, chickens are better at cleaning up food scraps then we had a dog. Chickens eat just about anything.
I have two young kids...who are basically food-waste generating machines. That was led me to get my first 6 chickens about 7 years ago.

Fast forward to now, and I have around 25 laying hens, and 55 more youngsters growing fast. Not only do they get all our food waste, plus some from a few neighbors and family members...and before the injury was I was picking up food waste from a local food pantry by the truckload.

It's a slippery slope. #chickenmath

:thumbsup I watched a YouTube video sometime last year and the guy there was saying that he thought every restaurant should have a small chicken pen out back to dump their food waste. That would significantly reduce the food waste heading to the landfills and the chicken pens could produce fresh eggs, compost, and meat for the restaurant. I suppose current health laws would make that impossible for most places, but I still liked the idea if feasible.
Maybe the restaurant can't have a chicken pen, but if every restaurant could be teamed up with a chicken farmer...we'd only solve climate change AND world hunger. :cool:
 

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
2,037
6,465
427
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
Do you have a light in your coop in winter? I find daylight hours are the biggest impact on laying, and I see a significant ebb and flow throughout the year.
I don't have a light in my coop, and in northern Minnesota, our daylight hours are severely reduced in the winter months. Having said that, last winter was the first winter for my hens and I averaged 7-8 eggs per day for 10 chickens. This summer, I am averaging about 4-5 eggs per day. But I have had some broody hens on and off and now I think I have molting to contend with before winter sets in. All that reduces egg production. Along with the chickens eating just eating most of their food out in the chicken run instead of eating their commercial feed.

I was picking up food waste from a local food pantry by the truckload.
Wow, that's great. Free food for your chickens and saves the restaurant $$ from garbage disposal fees. Win-Win for everybody.

Maybe the restaurant can't have a chicken pen, but if every restaurant could be teamed up with a chicken farmer...we'd only solve climate change AND world hunger.
The video I saw was only suggesting that restaurants could save $$ by feeding waste food to the backyard pen chickens instead of paying to have it hauled off to the landfill. Also, the restaurant could get fresh eggs and have a supply of fresh chicken meat when needed. I don't know what local health codes are for restaurants, but I have heard on chicken videos from England that they cannot feed kitchen scraps to their backyard flock. I don't know why, but evidently they have some health concerns. The work-around for chicken owners in England is to process the veggies outside, throwing the scraps directly to the chickens, before they take the food indoors. Again, I don't know England's concern for feeding kitchen scraps and/or waste food to chickens.
 

Sally PB

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
554
1,265
153
Belding, MI
I have a large compost set up that gets the kitchen and garden waste, minus what I save for the chickens. Right now, a lot of the garden waste is dead/dying plant vines, particularly tomato and potato vines. In the kitchen waste bin, I have, among other things, coffee grounds, tea bags and some things that have gone moldy. None of those are good for chickens, so I don't want the chickens (I have 4) to have access to them. Nor do I want to have two compost buckets on the counter.

Am I over thinking this? Will they ignore what they shouldn't have, or should I keep the potato/tomato vines and coffee grounds out of their reach? I could really make a big pile in the run for them to scratch through!
 

Red-Stars-in-RI

Songster
Mar 24, 2014
704
1,330
236
Rhode Island
I have a large compost set up that gets the kitchen and garden waste, minus what I save for the chickens. Right now, a lot of the garden waste is dead/dying plant vines, particularly tomato and potato vines. In the kitchen waste bin, I have, among other things, coffee grounds, tea bags and some things that have gone moldy. None of those are good for chickens, so I don't want the chickens (I have 4) to have access to them. Nor do I want to have two compost buckets on the counter.

Am I over thinking this? Will they ignore what they shouldn't have, or should I keep the potato/tomato vines and coffee grounds out of their reach? I could really make a big pile in the run for them to scratch through!
I'll start by saying that I *DO* have two buckets on my counter...one "chicken bucket" and one "compost bucket". One gets the coffee grounds, bits of cardboard, tea bags, etc. that go into a compost pile the chickens do not have access to. The other gets the food waste that goes to the chickens.

If your organic waste is mostly things that aren't good for chickens, it's probably not a great idea to give your flock access to your pile (unless it's had some time to rot down, maybe).

Most of what I compost *IS* good for the chickens (95%) though, so I throw it all in the pile they have access to. I find if they have an abundance, they won't go for the occasional item that gets mixed in that maybe shouldn't be good for them. If the tomato vines is the only edibles there, they may taste it...but if it's mixed in with tons of other good eats, they'll avoid it and eat the things that are better for them.
 

Red-Stars-in-RI

Songster
Mar 24, 2014
704
1,330
236
Rhode Island
The video I saw was only suggesting that restaurants could save $$ by feeding waste food to the backyard pen chickens instead of paying to have it hauled off to the landfill. Also, the restaurant could get fresh eggs and have a supply of fresh chicken meat when needed. I don't know what local health codes are for restaurants, but I have heard on chicken videos from England that they cannot feed kitchen scraps to their backyard flock. I don't know why, but evidently they have some health concerns. The work-around for chicken owners in England is to process the veggies outside, throwing the scraps directly to the chickens, before they take the food indoors. Again, I don't know England's concern for feeding kitchen scraps and/or waste food to chickens.
I believe the the food waste laws in Europe stem from the "mad cow" outbreak there a number of years back. I think it's a bit of an overreaction, but I know the disease was really bad there. I think mad cow had more to do with feeding diseased animals back to a herd than your veggie scraps to chickens, but those are now the laws.

I was at a burger place in Ireland about 5-6 years ago and without thinking ordered my burger "medium". They looked at me like I had 3 heads. :p
 

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
2,037
6,465
427
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
I have a large compost set up that gets the kitchen and garden waste, minus what I save for the chickens. Right now, a lot of the garden waste is dead/dying plant vines, particularly tomato and potato vines. In the kitchen waste bin, I have, among other things, coffee grounds, tea bags and some things that have gone moldy. None of those are good for chickens, so I don't want the chickens (I have 4) to have access to them. Nor do I want to have two compost buckets on the counter.

Am I over thinking this? Will they ignore what they shouldn't have, or should I keep the potato/tomato vines and coffee grounds out of their reach? I could really make a big pile in the run for them to scratch through!
I am certainly no expert in composting, but I am reading, watching YouTube videos, etc... and learning a lot. Most of our kitchen scraps are good for our chickens, so we only have one bucket inside the house for chickens. Every morning, and sometimes in the evening, I take the "chicken bucket" out to the garage, throw a little chicken scratch into the bucket with the kitchen scraps, and feed it to the chickens. So I never have anything in the kitchen bucket long enough to go moldy.

The very few things we have from the kitchen that are not good for chickens, like maybe an occasional avocado pit or skin end up in the trash. Dear Wife does not want 2 buckets in the kitchen either. We really don't need a second, separate, bucket in our case.

I do have compost bins outside that are separate from my chickens. I throw my garden tomato vines, potato vines, etc... that I am told are not good for the chickens to eat and will just let them compost in the bins.

There are a few YouTube videos of people (Karl Hammer?) feeding only restaurant waste food to their chickens. Since they get so much waste food, they don't bother to worry about the small amount of food that might not be good for the chickens to eat. Evidently, their theory is that if there is enough food to chose from, the chickens will naturally stay away from the food waste that is not good for them. In that case, those food waste products not eaten get composted, eaten by worms, and then the chickens can eat the worms.
 

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
2,037
6,465
427
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
I'll start by saying that I *DO* have two buckets on my counter...one "chicken bucket" and one "compost bucket". One gets the coffee grounds, bits of cardboard, tea bags, etc. that go into a compost pile the chickens do not have access to. The other gets the food waste that goes to the chickens.

If your organic waste is mostly things that aren't good for chickens, it's probably not a great idea to give your flock access to your pile (unless it's had some time to rot down, maybe).

Most of what I compost *IS* good for the chickens (95%) though, so I throw it all in the pile they have access to. I find if they have an abundance, they won't go for the occasional item that gets mixed in that maybe shouldn't be good for them. If the tomato vines is the only edibles there, they may taste it...but if it's mixed in with tons of other good eats, they'll avoid it and eat the things that are better for them.
That is consistent with what I am reading, watching on YouTube, etc... I have so little kitchen scraps that are not good for chickens that we only have one bucket in the house.

I do shred our paper bills, newspapers, etc... and a couple times a year will throw the paper shreds out into the chicken run to be turned into compost. I tried paper shreds in the nest boxes, but found that the shreds would stick to the eggs. So I went back to using pine shavings and/or fine wood chips.

I have recently built some new pallet compost bins and have been trying to convince Dear Wife that we no longer have to bring our cardboard to the recycle center. From what I read, worms love cardboard because it has good tasting glue.

:old Anyway, we have been recycling our paper products for years at the recycle center and that habit is hard for Dear Wife to break. At our recycling center, we don't have to sort out the plastic, glass, metal, and paper products. So it is very easy just to throw all that stuff into one collection bin. Asking Dear Wife to throw cardboard into another bin for composting at home is more work for her. She does not need more work....

:lau So I end up dumpster diving at our own house to pull out compostable paper material to save it from the landfill. Dear Wife is not as green as I am.
 

Sally PB

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
554
1,265
153
Belding, MI
:goodpost:

I would have two buckets on the counter if I could train hubby to sort the compost into chicken/non-chicken. But he is right when he says we have too much stuff on our counter, and I haven't even mentioned a second bucket. I have trained him NOT to put the eggshells from the chickens into the compost.

Any stuff that goes onto the compost pile outside gets the "hot rot" treatment, courtesy of the the chickens via their poop.

People ask me, do your chickens give you a lot of eggs? I say, no, they give me a lot of $h!t. (Hope that remark didn't offend anyone.)
 

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
2,037
6,465
427
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
People ask me, do your chickens give you a lot of eggs? I say, no, they give me a lot of $h!t. (Hope that remark didn't offend anyone.)
:thumbsup I was not offended. I tell people I have chickens because 1) I enjoy them, 2) they make great compost for the garden, and 3) I get eggs as a bonus.

We can buy eggs for less than $1 per dozen at the local big box store. Despite my belief that my backyard eggs are more natural and better for you, I don't know if I could tell the difference in a blind taste test. If you crack the egg open, the backyard eggs have a more orange yolk then the store bought eggs. Does that make them better? I don't know.

Dear Wife sells our excess eggs to friends for $2.00 per dozen. They seem to think the backyard eggs are better for them. Or maybe they just enjoy buying eggs from someone other than a commercial farm where the chickens are caged 24/7. The extra income from those eggs sold covers my commercial feed cost, so, the chickens pay for themselves.

I am getting close to harvesting the compost in the chicken run. Looks like lots of black gold there for me. Hope to see the results of the composting effort next year in the garden.
 

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