Manure Question

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by handmommy, May 27, 2012.

  1. handmommy

    handmommy In the Brooder

    Apr 9, 2012
    Northern Wisconsin
    So when I clean out the brooder, I've been just dumping the pine shavings and poo into the woods or my gardens. Now, I've been reading that I should compost it first. My husband just warned me that the pine is too acidic and I'm probably going to kill my flowers. I did read NOT to put the stuff from the brooder into the gardens where food is growing into the ground (like carrots, onions, etc) Is that true? (I've only plopped the dumpings into my flower gardens and used as mulch at this point.) OK, so my questions, I guess, can I continue to do what I've been doing? Should I compost (and how!?) or just dump it in the woods? And once they move into the coop and I have that much more, what shall I do with it? I had no idea, really, how much chickens poop! [​IMG] And I want to make the most of it!
  2. MaresNest

    MaresNest In the Brooder

    Jan 13, 2012
    Aiken, SC
    I'm new to chickens, but have had horses for 21 years and know a thing or two about composting manure in general. First, pine shavings are fine. Most composted horse manure is mixed with pine shavings or pine sawdust because that's what most horse stalls are bedded with. If you test your compost when it's finished, that will tell you whether it is too acidic or not. If it is, you can add lime to get the pH back up towards neutral.

    You do want to compost manure before putting it in the garden. Un-composted manure will burn your plants. Compost piles can be extremely simple (just a pile of manure and table scraps on the ground) or complex (manufactured systems purchased from a garden store). Since I have horses, I tend towards the simple because each of my four ponies makes 40 pounds of manure a day. So we have quite a large volume of manure to deal with.

    I have also done in-row composting. That is, during the winter when there are no row crops growing, the manure comes straight out of the barn and into the rows and composts in the place where it will be used in the spring. It composts slower this way because you don't have the mass of a big compost pile to build up a lot of heat, but it's very, very easy and you don't have to move it from the pile to the garden. Just dump the poo where you want it to eventually be used and use a pitchfork to turn it over occasionally. If it's not raining much, water it with a hose. (If it is raining enough to keep the pile slightly damp, skip that step.) When it's getting close to being time to plant, test the pH and add lime if it's too acidic.

    If you only have chickens, and especially if you don't have very many chickens, you may have trouble accumulating a worthwhile amount of compost. I don't know how people who just use kitchen scraps do it. Such a tiny amount. Hardly seems worth the effort. But that's just my perspective as a horse person, I guess.
  3. BigRedNZ

    BigRedNZ In the Brooder

    Jul 19, 2011
    In ground is nice'n'simple. As for small amounts our 5 ladies and table/garden scraps means we have 3 x 350 litre compost bins full and working all year.
  4. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    As long as your plants are doing fine, and you're not dumping that fresh stuff on food crops, you're ok with what you're doing. It should be left to age at least 2 months if you are adding it to a vegetable garden. Even what the poster above is doing is the same thing. They're letting it age in place rather than separately is all.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    First, because something can happen does not mean it will always without a shadow of doubt happen each and every time. There are often different techniques to get around certain problems.

    Raw uncomposted manure can add pathogens to your food crops is it is put on them. It can, not necessarily will each and every time time. Raw uncomposted manure can burn your plants. Whether it does or not depends on the specific plants, the concentration of the manure, and which animal it came from. Rabbit manure is pretty mild but chicken manure is considered a hot manure. Putting some in the middle of the row might not be too risky while putting it right on the plant could be. What actually happens depends on several different things.

    Manure should be composted before it is used. You can make composting as simple or as complex as you wish. You can study the ratio of browns (carbon) and greens (nitrogen) and carefully mix them for the right ratio, carefully keep the water content just right, and turn it regularly. Or you can just pile it up, don't let it totally dry out (it does need to be moist to work, but you do not want it to be soaking wet) and just wait several months. In some climates it will dry out and last for years, but if it has access to a little moisture it will eventually break down into something useful. In different climates with different moisture levels and with different mixes the rate it breaks down can be radically different.

    A very common method for those with large coops is to clean it out once a year in the fall and put that directly in the garden. By planting time, it will have broken down.

    You can use a droppings board and collect almost pure poop and leave the pine shavings behind. That really cuts down on how often you need to clean your coop. That pure poop needs to be mixed with something to help it break down. Leaves, plant waste from your garden, lawn clippings, lots of things can go into the mix. Many of us use kitchen scraps, partly to reduce how much is going into landfills and partly to get various nutrients into the compost. I include my egg shells to add calcium, which will help prevent blossom end rot, for example.

    You have all sorts of options for what you can do. Piling it up in the woods for several months, then starting another pile while that one breaks down sounds real simple to me, but you have plenty of other options. .

    Good luck!!!
  6. Red Barn Farms

    Red Barn Farms ~Friendly Fowl~

    Apr 12, 2012
    Kentucky Heartland
    We add the pine and poo all around our tomato plants. They are growing so fast!
  7. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    I purposefully said "age" rather than "compost" because it doesn't need to be composted so much as aged. You can actually just pile up pure poo somewhere and let it sit and it'll still age and be ok to put out in a couple months. Composting is best of course though. It's just not the only option.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: