Chickens provide you with fresh eggs, meat, and even companionship. What if we told you that you were sitting on a gold mine and you didn’t realize it? What gold is this? The black gold of manure, of course. If each chicken produces a cubic foot of waste every six months, you might as well use it. Today we will teach you how to compost chicken manure and what to do with it.
Why Is Manure So Beneficial?
Chicken manure is some of the best organic waste in the business. Not only does your chicken continuously produce it. But it is also the highest in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. These are the key ingredients that plants need to make energy. So even if you don’t have a garden now, you might consider starting one.
Hot Composting Procedures
We are going to jump right into how to compost chicken manure. The fastest and easiest way to compost your waste is by hot composting. And it’s not as complicated as it sounds. To get started, there are a few items you need:
- Two composting bins
- Composting thermometer (if not included in your container)
- Dry bedding
- And chickens, of course.
The first step in composting chicken manure is to prepare your coop to make this the easiest possible. Most people use bedding that can easily compost along with the chicken manure. The best chicken bedding for composting is wood shavings. The wood is a natural deodorizer and super absorbent. Not to mention it is cheap and readily available everywhere. If you currently use another type of bedding, you will want to change it before making fertilizer.
Collection time! Most people use some variation of the deep litter method. That means you don’t change out the bedding as often but instead start the composting within the coop. With the deep litter method, you change out the bedding once every 4-6 months.
When you clean out this started compost, you put all of the bedding and manure directly into a composter. If you don’t use the deep litter method, no worries. You can still hot compost once your composter is full, at least four feet deep. Just keep adding litter and waste to the compost bin every time you change the bedding.
The trick here is that you want the composter to have 75% bedding and 25% manure. You know you have the right percentages when you can form a ball with the waste yet quickly break it up with your fingers. Once you fill the composter with this, you can move on to the next step.
Now, your composter is full, and you are ready to add some water. You will want to add enough water that your compost feels squishy like a sponge. Adding water will cause the good bacteria to grow, which starts the warming process.
Let your chicken manure sit and check the temperature daily. Eventually, the internal temperature will get 140-160 degrees. This part is important because it kills any remaining E Coli. and salmonella. Once your temperature reaches 160 or above for three days, you are ready for step four.
If you don’t notice that your compost isn’t heating up after 48 hours, there might be something wrong. You should check that your compost isn’t too wet or too dry. A nice spongy texture is perfect for this. If the compost is too moist, add a little more bedding to the mix. Or, if it’s dry, add a bit more water and give it a good stir.
But if that’s not the problem, you could be lacking the bacteria necessary for composting. In that case, you could do a few things. You could add soil from your lawn that is naturally rich in bacteria. Or you can add more fresh feces to get a good bloom.
After your chicken manure has reached 160 degrees, it’s time to turn the compost. Turning can be difficult in traditional composting bins. For this case, we recommend composting chicken manure in tumbler. Give your compost a good mix, and then let it reach 160 degrees for three more days. And then do it two more times to be safe.
Repeating this step a few times helps the compost to break down entirely. It also helps kill as much of the harmful bacteria as possible so that the manure doesn’t go rancid.
Finally, our last step on how to make chicken manure fertilizer is to cure. This process is also called aging. How to age chicken manure is as effortless as breathing. All you need to do is let it sit. You will need to cure the compost for anywhere between 60-120 days. Or until the manure is dark, crumbly, and smells of fresh soil.
During this step, you won’t turn or add anything to the compost. That is why many people choose to have two compost bins. If your curing takes a little longer than expected, you already have a backup bin to start the next batch.
Are There Alternatives To Hot Composting?
There is an alternative to hot composting chicken manure, but it’s not easy and takes forever. This process is called cold composting. To do this, you might want to start composting in the coop using the deep litter method. Once you remove the bedding to clean, add it to a tumbler.
But unlike hot composting, this method needs constant care. You will need to stir the compost every few days to ensure oxygen is getting to the center. And you will have to do this for a year or more before it finally breaks down. Some people add earthworms to the mix to help break down the waste. But you will still need to age the manure for a year to kill all bacteria.
How To Use Fresh Chicken Manure In The Garden
Now that you know how to compost chicken manure, how do you use it?
If you finished your compost in the late fall, you might think it was for nothing. But that’s not true. One of the best uses of fresh manure in the garden is to lay a thick layer down before winter.
A 2-3 inch layer of manure can protect your land from leaching nutrients all winter. And when you till the ground in spring, you are adding lots of significant nitrogen back into the soil. It also helps to age the compost throughout the winter so that your crops will be ready in spring.
It would be best if you never used fresh manure on seedlings. Seedlings and new growth are very delicate. The higher nitrogen levels in fresh hot manure will burn these growing plants, effectively killing them.
What Can I Use Aged Fertilizer On?
When we plant our spring vegetables, you might want to add manure to the mix to increase the size and quality. But you can’t add chicken manure to any garden. Some plants don’t thrive well on nitrogen levels, and therefore you could kill them in the process.
So what plants like chicken manure? According to the Old Farmers Almanac, chicken compost is excellent for most vegetables. But you should always take great care with this. Hot composting is the only way to kill harmful bacteria.
It is also the only compost you should use on vegetables, not typically cooked or root vegetables. Cold composted manure will still have traces of bacteria that could potentially contaminate your produce.
Are there plants that don’t like chicken manure? Most flowers and fruit trees don’t do well with the chicken’s alkalinity and high nitrogen contents. So if you have some prized azaleas, don’t put this compost on them.
How Much Chicken Manure To Add To Soil
No matter how you are using your compost, the application is the same. Forty-five pounds of chicken manure covers 100 square feet of space. This coincidentally is about the same amount of compost one chicken will make in a year. So if you have a small flock, they will provide enough for your entire garden. And if you have a large flock, you might have enough for the whole yard.
Usually, 45 pounds is perfect for a small garden. But you might want to keep some on hand to use in plants that lack phosphorus and potassium. Phosphorus deficiencies usually turn your plants dark green from roots to leaf. And potassium deficiencies cause yellowing of the leaves.
If you see any of these signs, you can spray some compost tea in the ground for a little boost. But you don’t want to add the compost tea too often. Compost tea on thriving plants could potentially kill the roots.
What If I Have Too Much Compost?
What to do with chicken poop once you’ve used it all? Sell it! You might not make a fortune on chicken poop. But it can at least pay for a few bags of food. And the bigger your flock is, the more money you can make off it. Most people can sell their compost for $10-$25 per 50 pounds. If you know your market, you could potentially make a profit.
Are You Going To Start Composting?
Now that you know how to compost chicken manure, you can see it’s not scary. You might actually be excited about chicken waste for once now that you know more about it.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!