Should I Save or Toss My Chickens’ Manure? The answer to your question is simple and straightforward; you should keep it. If you ask many people why they raise chickens, they will give you almost similar answers. Nearly all of them will gladly tell you that they do so for fresh eggs and meat. Some will claim that they keep chickens as their pets. As for me, I will happily tell you that I do it for eggs, meat, and organic manure from their droppings.
Chicken manure is as essential as any other poultry product. This fertilizer contains several essential nutrients for your garden at home. Besides, this form of fertilizer is entirely free of chemicals.
Beyond eggs and meat, there are other benefits of raising chickens. Some of these benefits include organic pest control and organic fertilizer production. These benefits make backyard chickens a must-have if your state or region allows raising chickens in your home.
Besides, chickens are easy to keep compared to other farm animals. This comes in the wake of calculating the cost of raising a single chicken in your backyard. Even though this cost would require initial capital, the returns are quite promising.
Your flock can use a small fraction of energy contained in the grains. The rest of the content is usually excreted in the form of manure.
When you combine your backyard flock’s poop with high carbon matter, you will have organic manure rich in essential nutrients. In this case, the high-carbon matter that you can use includes leaves, straw, and wood shavings.
All these carbon components increase organic matter content in the soil. So, should you save and not toss chickens’ manure? Let’s get to the bottom of this subject matter.
What Are the Benefits of Chicken Manure?
A single bird is capable of producing between 8 and 11 pounds of organic manure every month. This is according to the research carried out by Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service and Ohio State University. Fresh chicken droppings contain 1.8% nitrogen, including other numerous essential nutrients.
Since nitrogen is always in short supply, it’s wise to use it to estimate the actual value of chicken manure. This will give you an estimate of each nutrient contained in chicken droppings.
Out of 8-11 pounds of manure produced by a single chicken, 0.12-0.17 pounds is nitrogen. This amount represents what one chicken can produce in one month on average.
Crops in your garden need a range of 0.25-0.33 pounds of nitrogen for every 100 square feet. If your hen is free-ranging in an area equivalent to 100 square feet, she is likely to deposit nitrogen.
This amount of nitrogen can support the healthy growth of your garden crops in just 8-10 weeks. That is if you use all her manure, including droppings from her roosting area and coop.
But if you’re raising your hen in a portable pen (30-square-foot), the time to collect enough nitrogen will be less. This is because she will take about three weeks to deposit enough nitrogen for your crops.
Given that you will keep more than one chicken in your backyard, it means that you collect more organic manure. In the process, you will have enough nitrogen and other nutrients for your crops.
Nitrogen is one of the most challenging nutrients to manage, especially in your garden. Since it works well for certain crops, this nutrient can also affect some crops. For instance, too much nitrogen can prevent tomatoes from fruiting well.
Follow the correct guideline to ensure that your garden gets enough organic manure for the crops. This type of fertilizer adds the right amount of plant-boosting nitrogen to the garden through chicken droppings.
Nevertheless, don’t let your birds stay too long in the garden to cause unintentional damages due to excess nitrogen. Chicken manure is one of the greatest assets you can rely on for your home garden.
Although this manure is too strong to use it raw on your vegetables and flowers, you can compost it. This will make it more manageable when applying it to your crops.
If you use it without composting, it can damage roots or possibly destroy your crops. This manure adds some organic matter to the soil, thereby increasing the water retention capacity. Also, it acts as a safe fertilizer to provide plants with phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen.
How Do You Compost Chicken Manure?
Below is a set of guidelines to help you get started with composting chicken manure:
Collect Enough Manure and Bedding
You may use bedding such as sawdust, dry leaves, shavings, or straw to make the chicken coop comfortable. These materials play a significant role in cushioning chickens, controlling bad smell, and destroying pests.
When collecting the coop bedding, ensure that you include chicken manure. Then dump everything you have collected into the compost bin.
Sometimes you may prefer picking manure or soiled bedding from the chicken coop daily or occasionally. Once you have removed older bedding, replace it with new ones to make the coop more comfortable for your birds.
Nitrogen to Carbon Balance
This is also known as the C: N ratio. It involves a combination of carbon and nitrogen in a ratio of 30 parts to 1 part. This creates a perfect environment for the microbes to work on organic material in order to produce compost manure.
Different bedding materials have their own carbon to nitrogen ratio. This means that the proportion of manure to bedding will vary according to the bedding materials used.
That is the main reason why most composters apply the general rule of 1:2. Meaning that you should combine 1 part brown with 2 parts green.
Now that chicken manure has a high content of nitrogen, you may consider using a 1:1 ratio or 2:1 mixture to achieve good results.
Apply a Hot Compost Recipe
When you combine the right ratio of manure and bedding to form a complete pile in one cubic yard, the final outcome will involve a hot pile.
Your compost pile should heat up to 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit for three consecutive days. Heating the pile is essential such that it helps destroy pathogens in this type of combination.
However, temperatures that exceed 160 degrees Fahrenheit can destroy beneficial microorganisms or slow down the entire process. To achieve the best results, you may purchase a recommended compost temperature gauge to help monitor the composting process.
Repeat the Heating
Check the progress of your compost pile to find out if it has reached the right temperature. At this time, you should expect the center of the compost pile to have started cooling.
Then disintegrate the center and move its core material towards the edges. Take the edge material to the center for further heating. Repeat this process at least three times until you get the desired results.
Allow it to Cure
Take a while to monitor the compost pile. Watch out for the changes taking place within the content of the bin.
Once you are sure that everything inside the bin has been heated, cover it loosely and allow it to cure for two months before using it. When ready for use, the material in your compost pile will become crumbly, dark, and sweet-smelling, just like soil.
Add it to Your Garden
You may add the resulting manure to your flower bed or vegetable garden to improve crop yield. Just spread the content of your compost on the surface or mix it with the existing soil to make it more effective.
What are Safety Tips for Handling Manure?
You have to be very careful when handling chicken manure. This is because it may contain pathogens that could affect root crops such as beets, carrots, radishes, and leaves(spinach, lettuce). Therefore, don’t spread any uncomposted manure in your vegetable garden. So, you should save and not toss your chickens’ manure.
Here are safety tips:
- Apply only well-composted chicken manure to the soil
- Wear protective gear while handling chicken manure
- Wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating
- Don’t mix chicken manure with dog, pig or cat manure in your compost pile.
- Avoid eating uncooked vegetables or fruits from manured gardens if they are susceptible to food-borne diseases.
How many chickens do I need to collect enough manure? Any number of chickens can do as long as you make an effort to obtain their droppings regularly. But if you can keep more birds, you can get a lot of manure within a short time.
What is the downside of collecting chicken manure? Organic chicken manure can attract flies and rodents. Also, it stinks, and the ammonia produced is unhealthy for the chickens to breathe.
We raise chickens primarily for their meat and eggs. But there are still more to come from these lovely and friendly birds. Chickens are a great source of organic manure, and many poultry farmers can attest to this fact. Their manure contains a substantial amount of essential nutrients for garden crops or flower beds.
Provided that you know how to handle this type of organic manure, you can benefit a lot from it. Most importantly, save and not toss your chickens’ manure. This is because it is cheap and easy to prepare as long as you have the right knowledge and enough chickens in your backyard. So, you should save it rather than tossing it.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!