Keeping compost pile in chicken run...Yeah or Nay?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by two early, May 18, 2011.

  1. two early

    two early Out Of The Brooder

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    When my chickens free range, they head straight to the compost heap, scratching and pecking and clucking away, happy as...well...hens in a compost pile.
    So I was thinking of keeping a smaller pile in the enclosed run, filled with old straw from the coop and grass clippings. That they they could have access to it anytime they wanted. I could also add some leftovers in there since the run is completely enclosed a la Fort Knox and thus far no rodents have gotten in. Is this a good idea or not? Sure would make cleaning the coop easier. Thanks for any ideas.
     
  2. new chick 203

    new chick 203 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've friends that do it that way and swear by it. I would think you would need a second pile somewhere else for things like tomato vines, rhubarb leaves, and all the other toxic stuff.
     
  3. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sounds like a excellent idea but I would suggest side so it doesn't get scattered all over the yard. I watched my hens take a small piece if a hay bale and spread it 20' away with in their pursuit of bugs. But if there was a 2' wall holding it in you would have a wonderful mixer as well as snacks for your birds.
     
  4. Laigaie

    Laigaie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have a dual compost system here as well. We have over an acre of yard and only four outdoor hens, so the majority of our grass clippings plus anything toxic goes into the pile next to the garden, and everything else goes into the run compost pile. They absolutely love picking through new stuff every day. They did, however, completely dismantle the pile the first day it was moved into their run. Now, the back third of their run is dirt/compost, and the first two thirds are grass. They spread out anything that goes where the "pile" was supposed to be, but they keep it off the grass. Some folks are really picky about making sure nothing moldy is eaten by the hens, but ours keep it picked clean, except the stuff they don't like. That stuff they won't eat no matter how squishy and gross it gets, so it's basically safe to be in their run anyway.
     
  5. youngjedi32002

    youngjedi32002 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I give my hens a bowlful of leftovers and scraps in the late afternoon/evening around dinnertime, to make sure their crops are filled for the overnight. They have a small bowl of feed inside the coop but I want them to be full and content when they turn in for the night. I usually sprinkle it in the run so it doesn't get the feed wet or messy and waste it. Whatever they don't eat gets trampled down and every week to 10 days I rake it out and turn it over. It seems to work really well. Sometimes I give them bones to pick at and I make sure to get those out the next day, in case they lure any unwanted guests in!
     
  6. two early

    two early Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for your replies.....are grass clippings toxic if only organic fertilizer is used? I have a separate food composter (barrel type), but all other straw and grass clippings are in the "free" pile, which I allow the hens to peck in. Hope this is ok.
     
  7. Laigaie

    Laigaie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I can't see why grass clippings would be toxic if you're only using hen-safe fertilizer. We don't fertilize the yard at all, but I wouldn't want my hens to overgorge themselves on the grass clippings as they tend to do if they have access to the whole yard's mountain of clippings.
     
  8. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Not if there is anything moldy in it. Chickens can develop sour crop by eating moldy feed in a compost pile, depending on what you're actually putting in it.
     

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