How to use chicken dirt in garden

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by Cheerful, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. Cheerful

    Cheerful Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 5, 2012
    Can anybody advice how to use chicken dirt as fertilizer in the garden? Our six chicken's are free range. (though this year, I hope to keep them out of the garden!) I've been using a sort of deep bedding method with wood chips in the hen house. They have a small enclosed run that is....well, sometimes I throw some chips down there, or leaves if it looks wet. I thought that when I cleaned the hen-house I could just compost it but I've been reading about how wood chips aren't that great. Or maybe it's just that they take a long time to break down? Straw is hard to come by so that isn't really an option for a wood chip alternative. Would hay be something I could use that would break down better? I use some old hay in the nesting boxes but I feel like I heard I shouldn't use it in the henhouse as bedding.
    Anyway, should I just clean the henhouse and let the stuff compost for a long time (like...years??) or is there another approach I should be taking?
  2. ve

    ve Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 27, 2009
    Palmetto GA
    You are on your way to some very good and rich compost for soil amendments and conditioning. Wood chips or saw dust requires more nitrogen and a bit more time to compost down. The chickens will add this extra nitrogen. With the old nest hey or leaves, it will not take years. Airiate, fluff with a pitch fork, and keep the pile moist, in just a few months should produce some real black gold for you.
  3. Cheerful

    Cheerful Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 5, 2012
    Thanks! I realized that maybe I was reading about *just* woodchips, so it's good to know that the used bedding will be good. I'll follow those instructions and look forward to feeding the garden.:)
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    The wood chips balance the poop, making it a pretty darn good amendment. It is important to apply manure according to the safe handling guidelines published by every State Ag Extension service. The easiest one to read and understand is this one:

    We market garden and the chicken litter, (straw mostly, but have used chips in the past), drives the whole thing. It's gold!!!
  5. SweetSilver

    SweetSilver Chillin' With My Peeps

    I second (or third) the wood chips with chicken manure. How fast it breaks down depends on the ratio of wood and other leafy debris, like needles. The best mulch, compost, anything, EVER has been what I call "Christmas tree mulch", the chippings from Douglas fir trees. That combination gets hot and crumbly very quickly. When the pile is woodier, it tends to break down more slowly, and doesn't heat up as much which favors a cool, fungal break down instead of a bacterial one. Some say the former is superior, in part because a hot, bacterial compost releases and wastes a lot of nutrients compared to a slow, cool, fungal-driven one (that is also friendlier to worms and other decomposing critters which will add their own frass to the pile.

    Anyways...... the only thing better than Christmas Tree Mulch is CTM that has been in with the chickens..... lovely!

    We use hay as bedding and lots of it, but we also have an arrangement that has excellent air circulation in the coop year-round (I live in the PNW where all we need to do is keep our chickens protected from the sideways-rain so common here in the fall). Where the hay meets soil, especially, it has a tendency to mold and that is what the problem is. The chickens looooove the hay itself!
  6. Alli Lea

    Alli Lea Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 19, 2013
    Woodland, CA
    I've been picking up coffee chaff from a local coffee roaster and using that as bedding for the coop/ run. It works great, clumps with poo, and breaks down quickly. It does fly everywhere though so I keep my water up a little bit and it also sticks to egg shells so I wouldn't use it in the nest boxes. It's great for compost and its free!

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