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Thinking about composting...need advice

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by chickyboomboom, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. chickyboomboom

    chickyboomboom Chirping

    Jun 14, 2011
    So, with all this great chicken poop... I am thinking about trying out composting. I don't have a very big area to do this, so I would like to get a compact type of bin. Also, I have 2 small children (human kind) and time is not something we have a lot of, so it has to be simple. I was thinking of one of those round ones with a handle that you turn...

    I really don't have the slightest clue on composting and what goes into it, what's needed, etc. All I know is I have chicken poop (from 5 chickens) and plenty of fruit and veggie scraps! I think you need worms too? Can any leftovers go into composting? Does is stink VERY bad, or is it tolerable? How long does it take to see results. Do you mix soil in there?

    I use sand in the coop and scoop like kitty litter, so I have pure poop coated with sand, no wood chips. But when they start laying I will have some hay.

    Any recommendations would be appreciated and price ranges, etc.

  2. for composting you need a mix of 50/50 between "brown" and "green".. brown is anything like dried leaves or manure.. green would be grass clipping and veggie scraps. Things like meat and bread normally don't go into a composter because it attracts rats and raccoons.. you would add a layer of brown.. then a layer of green.. mix it every so often and water occasionally to keep things moist.. but not soggy.. basically for a composter to heat up it needs moisture and air.. which is why getting the barrel type with a handle to turn it is sooo nice! If done right a compost pile or tumbler doesn't "stink".. it ends up with an earthy smell.. if it does stink you may need to add more brown ingredients. As for how long it takes.. I have two set up.. when one is filled I move to the second one (but keep tumbling the first one at least once a week..I can have nice compost in anywhere from 4 to 6 months depending on the weather and how often I tend to it. A tumbler is the easiest way to go.. a compost pile takes a lot more muscle to turn

    if you are wanting to use worms you would be better off with a worm bin.. I never add chicken manure to a worm bin because some of it can be too strong and actually burn the worms. For worm bins I just lay the veggie scraps on top... and let the worms come upon their own to munch away.. burying the scraps usually causes mold (or at least it has for me). I will add rabbit manure to the worm bin since it's considered to be "neutral" and doesn't heat things up like chicken manure can
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    The Sister forum, TheEasyGarden has a complete section on composting. You may find something there that will help you.


    I agree. For your circumstances, the round bin with a handle sounds like the way to go. I do the compost pile so don't really have the experience with that circular bin type, but there are some basic principles. You mix browns and greens. The brown and green has nothing to do with color. The browns are high in carbon and the greens are high in nitrogen. You need both to get a compost to work. And different things have different carbon to nitrogen ratios. You can get as technical as you wish on the carbon to nitrogen ratio or you can just play it by ear. The greens are not pure nitrogen. They contain carbon as well. The browns are not pure carbon. They contain some nitrogen.

    These lists give a rough idea of what is considered green or brown. You need both, but as long as you have a general mix you will probably be OK. If it starts to stink, you may have too many greens. (Being too wet can cause it to stink too) If you have too many browns, the process can be pretty slow. But you have a wide range of "correct" mixes. I don't worry too much about getting it just right.

    Green Compost Materials

    Dead houseplants compost well (without thorns)
    Grass clippings (watch your compost C/N ratio)
    Weeds (that have not set seed or do not take root easily from stem)
    Dead flower heads
    Manure is excellent for compost (chicken,horse,cow)
    Pet cage waste including paper (gerbils, hampsters, etc)
    Kitchen vegetable scraps (buried in the compost heap to avoid attracting rodents)
    Fresh water aquarium waste (algae, plants, the water if you need more moisture in your compost heap)
    Eggshells (in a pinch, wash out the contents well)

    Brown Compost Materials

    Dried leaves (stockpile leaves for year round browns for your composting needs)
    Pine needles (small amounts, mulch rest)
    Straw (not hay, hay contains seeds that could grow in your compost)
    Twigs (chipped)
    Hedge trimmings (chipped)
    Stalks (sunflower, corn)
    Dried bean plants
    Dry tomato and potato vine

    You need to keep the mix damp but not wet. The microbes that cause the decomposition need some moisture, but if you get it wet, it goes from aerobic to anaerobic decomposition, which means it will stink.

    It is a good idea to throw in a shovelful of dirt or, even better, some active compost. That will introduce the right microbes into your mix to get the process started. How fast the process works depends on your green to brown mix, keeping it damp but not wet, and how often you turn it. If you get everything absolutely perfect, you might get decent compost in a month. Most of us take several months though.

    You do not need to add worms to this type of composter. If you get the mix close to right, the compost will heat up, which would kill the worms.

    You'll get conflicting information on certain wastes from your kitchen. Technically you can compost meat and many other things, but they may attract flies and other vermin, such as mice or rats, or they may atttract scavengers like raccoons. A lot of people do put meat and such in their compost bins, but they generally have it contained where these things cannot get to it. I compost any vegetable matter that is not cooked in oil and I avoid meat, since I do not want to attract raccoons near my chickens. I don't claim to do it the right way. I do not consider this the wrong way. It is just my way.

    Hope this helps some. Good luck!
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I spent the weekend googling compost bins because I want to get one going too [​IMG] I don't have small kids, so I'm just going with a simple wood or cinderblock one (not sure which yet). I did read that meats tend to cause more bad smells, so I'm not putting meat in mine. Hope you find what works for you!
  5. DaughterOfEve

    DaughterOfEve Songster

    Sep 3, 2009
    Montague, MI
    There is one that you place the new stuff on top and then slide trays in and out the side to move it down and continue to put in on top. By the time the compost gets to the bottom it is ready and just open the door and out it comes. I have seen it in a magazine I get. try www.gardeningclub.com .

    I have lots of space and use concrete blocks to make 2 different holding areas it is ready every 3 to 4 months.
  6. Quote:Dang.. ya learn something new every day... [​IMG] all these years I have been told that manure was considered "brown" because it was digested (even though our fresh horse manure is VERY green in color).. and I've had great luck mixing it with the greens and having nice compost in 4 to 6 months.. thanks for that list! I'm going to print it out for future reference
  7. chickyboomboom

    chickyboomboom Chirping

    Jun 14, 2011
    Thank you all! Especially Ridgerunner for your most generous answer! What an education I'm getting from BYC. Okay, I'll be checking out those sites! Thanks for the advice, love hearing everyone's experiences.

  8. kizanne

    kizanne Songster

    Mar 28, 2011
    Tallahassee, FL
    Quote:Dang.. ya learn something new every day... [​IMG] all these years I have been told that manure was considered "brown" because it was digested (even though our fresh horse manure is VERY green in color).. and I've had great luck mixing it with the greens and having nice compost in 4 to 6 months.. thanks for that list! I'm going to print it out for future reference

    Manure is green but chicken manure often times has so much pine bark that it is considered brown. The pine bark is brown the manure is green is my understanding.
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Quote:Right. Manure is green. The stuff straight off a droppings board without any shavings or bedding is green. The bedding is brown. A lot of times, there is so much bedding mixed with the actual manure that the mix is considered a brown. If you take chicken manure covered with sand, that would be considered green. The manure is green and the sand is neutral so the resulting mixture is green.

    Different manures have different degrees of green. Pure chicken manure is hotter (or greener) than rabbit or cow manure because they have different carbon to nitrogen rations. As I said earlier, you can get as technical as you want. I try to understand some of the basic principles and go for it, adjusting as experience directs me. My compost takes months to make, but I can live with that.
  10. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Pine shavings rob a lot of Nitrogen from the compost, manure, and the earth as it is breaking down and If you are going to be composting your manure I wouldn't use pine shavings as a bedding you would far better off using straw or better yet builders (all purpose) sand.


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