My waste/composte pile

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by fishnet1971, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. I have a pile of dirty pine shavings and all the other gunk that gets mixed in with it from when i clean out my coop in a pile with other weeds and old pumpkins,gourdes, etc as my compost pile. The girls and 'Bird get into it and root around and scatter it all over the place on a daily routine when i let them free range in the late afternoons.

    My question is, Should I be letting them do this? The pile is 90% soiled shavings, poop, and whatever else they have had on their floor (old scratch, old food, etc.). I am worried that if the old scratch and crumbles in a foot down and they get to it, cant they get sick from it as it would be soured and rancid?

    Should I fence it off from them? or maybe burn it instead of letting them have access????
  2. Chickenaddict

    Chickenaddict Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 19, 2008
    East Bethel MN
    I am sure you are going to get mixed reviews on this very subject. There are toxic molds in that stuff and other things that can harm them however I let my birds have access to it and have never had any problems. They turn it for me. We have 2 piles, one fresh pile for the year and last years pile that is pretty much broken down and ready for the gardens.
  3. Ragdollcatlady

    Ragdollcatlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 14, 2011
    We used to try to contain the pile and keep the birds out, but they love the bugs and stuff and while not real sanitary [​IMG] they were the ones producing the stuff, so aside from possibly parasites,...they probably won't get ill from it. If the sanitary stuff bothers you I would cover the pile. I do throw away completely, really moldy stuff cause I know the chickens do go through it. They do a really good job keeping everything mixed and well aerated! If you are worried about the spoiled food, you can always use a smaller compost tumbler or bin for that and let them work through the shavings/weeds maybe......
  4. i recently had a hen go really sick and die and couldnt not figure out why. we came to the conclusion that it was probably ecoli and i was to late to save her. The pile is 90% their shavings, old food, poop, and stuff. They just love to scratch around in it and peck in it. I am wondering if the old food in it may have gotten moldy, sour, whatever and that is what made my Mary sick? I wouldnt even worry if it was just yard scraps, compost from the house, only a few shavings with crap.

    Thing is, my pumpkins really grow awesome out of the pile, so i really didnt want to burn it unless i had too. the pine shavings and poo give the BEST medium.
  5. Chickenaddict

    Chickenaddict Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 19, 2008
    East Bethel MN
    It could have been botulism that got your dear mary. That can also be picked up from the compost pile. It could also been something genetic. Sometimes you just never know the exact cause. Our compost is chicken bedding/veggie scraps/ grass clippings/weeds/ dirt and poop raked out from their run. They have been digging around in it for 6 years now. You could fence it off with just some cheap chicken wire fencing if you want to keep it going for your pumpkins. I tried fencing mine in too at one point but they just flew over it.
  6. yea, i have extra posts and wire sitting around, i wondered how many of us actually fence it off? Not being sure what got her sick, i am not sure what i should do. fence or not to fence? I dont mind them being in it, i love it as they turn it up, but not sure what the risks health wise are?
  7. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I always understood the reason for not including meat scraps and pet waste from cats and dogs was to prevent e-coli and other such things from growing in the compost. As long as you only compost things such as vegetable and plant material, and avoid feeding your chickens meat scraps, the compost shouldn't present a hazard to your chickens.

    My flock runs straight to the compost pile the minute I let them out of their pen. They spend many joyful hours digging for bugs, and even taking dirt baths in the decomposing material that includes mainly their own poop. The big benefit is they do the work for me, saving me many hours of back-breaking shoveling to turn the pile.

    I've observed my chickens and what they will eat, and I've seen them pointedly avoid spoiled and rotting stuff. They are unusually selective, only eating what is fresh and wholesome. I've never had a problem with any of them getting sick from the compost pile, or even eating anything from it other than all the wonderful bugs in there.
  8. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    I keep my compost pile contained to keep the dogs and birds out of it. The birds have dug a major trench around the base of the containers to stir up bugs and such that fall through the slats of the containers, but they can't get to the moldy nastiness inside. I have read too many tales here of birds being lost because of bad compost to risk their health. The birds can happily muck about in the yard waste "compost" area, but I keep food waste out of their reach.

    Just my $0.02. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
  9. thanks everyone for your thoughts. My pile being 90%pine shavings with everything that gets scooped out of the coop is their daily joy pile as well. They scratch and dig and are happy campers as well. Its the best place for worms and such too. I see them pecking and chowing down on scratch that didnt get eaten in the pile often. I know there is crumbles that didnt get eaten only got dumped out on the floor in the pile too. I am thinking that the pile is not what got Mary sick now as well. There is no meat scraps or really house food scraps in it. (DH is a human garbage disposal. OOPS did i just say that????lol) mostlly weeds, garden scraps and the pine shavings/poop stuff. i think I am going to try and dig into it a little bit and see what i find. Maybe if i hand turn it over it will mix it up more and get rid of any possible spoiling food (the crumbles). The pile is really more like 3 feet high and 5 feet around. kinda more like a manure pile. lol
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