Using chicken Manure

runningtrailsNovember 9, 2008

Yesterday I cleaned out my chicken house of it's deep litter. It has been there since July and was bout 6" deep. It consisted of (in addition to the chicken manure) hardwood shavings and shredded white paper.

How soon can I use it in my garden without burning plants? If I put it on theempty garden now, will it be ok to plant in the spring or does it need to compost in a pile further?

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Put it in a pile outdoors and let it sit for a year to completely compost with the moisture of snow and rain. I used bedding fresh as a mulch and absolutely nothing grew in that area for over a year.

If you took it straight from the chicken coop, there wasn't enough moisture in it to let it compost completely.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 8:28AM
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Depending on the type of bedding you have used where it should be use. Some wood chips/shavings are treated with chemicals you would never want to put in a vegetable garden, they are called 'Driers or fresheners' and while they are not out right toxic, they can build up residual effects that may cause allergies in some people.

I use cages and runs to raise poultry in and use only saw dust that is chemical free, In the fall it is placed directly on the garden and worked in the top 3-4" than planted to a 'green manure' (wheat-oats-rye blend). The growing 'green manure' breaks down the chicken manure and uses the excess nitrogen (which will make your green peppers all green and no peppers). Keep and eye on your PH levels.

As you know chickens 'go' about 60 times a day then times that by a few hundred chicken and I get about 8 cubic feet of manure a day. I put it in the worm beds, the flower and vegetable gardens in the fall, on the lawn (lightly) during the spring-summer-fall, heavily on the lawn when there is 6" or more snow present. My lawn is so thick weeds don't grow. Miss the dandelion flowers in the spring.

When using chicken manure on the lawn you should apply a granulated lime in the spring and fall to control the PH. I was surprised how green the grass stayed all summer even during dry spells.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 9:18AM
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This is great info! Thanks all!
The wood shavings I have are chemical free "shavings" not "chips" - maple I think, from a friend's wood shop. He builds furniture. The stuff is half wood shavings and half shredded paper. It will be shredded paper form now on, unless I can find a source of wood chips.

I have tried the tree companies and the hydro, nothing, nada, zilch. Very dissappointing. Anyway, shredded paper and newsprint is plentiful and safe enough. I'm usually the one that shreds it.

I guess I'll wait and put this stuff on the garden and till it in next fall.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 11:29AM
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Have cleaned the chicken house out in falls past and applied the 'strawy-hayey' mass to next years veggie gardens without problems. Fall spread (from 150 fryers), was about 1" deep.
Spring (usually Mothers' Day!), cleanout went to the designated corn patch. This represented savings of 12-15 hens and was spread over a 30'x130' area. This was in addition to the fall spread. Huge corn crop each year.

An old-timer neighbor (self-described ), was famous for liberally spreading horse manure (not-composted) on his onion patch and then simply dropped onion sets more or less in straight lines. Very productive for him and these onions stored well, besides. This man was strictly organic in his animal and veggie care-so wormers and other chemicals were not a concern.

If your birds consume antibiotic feeds, dewormers, or have not been healthy, you might want to use the birds' manure on your non-food plantings: landscape or lawn. Am not sure if data is available indicating the breakdown of these compounds via composting. There is much evidence that humanure composting does not alter much of the pharmaceuticals that people consume.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 4:03PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Before you automatically put lime in the composted manure, check the pH first and know the pH of your soil. Around here chicken manure is used to counteract the limey soil and make it productive again.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 5:41PM
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I would not be worried about the translation of antibotics in the manure when used in the vegetable garden. Most are changed into harmless components when exposed to the elements except the sulfa drugs. Sulfa drugs will react with water and if in large quantities will acidify your soil, other than that they too are harmless. They also will make your beats, turnips, carrots grow like weeds especially if Epsom salts are lightly sprinkled in the seed row.

What would worry me is the worm meds and some miticides. Depending on the chemical makeup it is hard to say what problems they could cause if consumed. Most a designed to be absorbed through the 'skin' of the insect, so one would expect that penatrating the 'skin' of the vegetables would be a problem. I personally do not trust the labeling on products like these. They are made by the same companies that swore up and down that DTD (and countless others) were totally harmless and look what their use did to our environment.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 7:31PM
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None of my chickens are on any kinds of meds and I have never given them any, nor have they needed it.
So that's not a worry, thank goodness!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 8:48PM
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While I 'believe' composting helps bind the nutrients better for the garden application- I have been lazy here and just apply it directly to the fall/early spring garden, allow rain to hit it for a few weeks, then till it under....then plant. Works for me.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 11:00PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

Chicken manure is quite high in nitrogen. If you use it directly on the garden as a think mulch or dump it in a pile on the garden, you can burn the plants. Spreading it out and working it in will just give you a nice shot of fertilizer.

I used to clean the chicken house out once or twice a year, one of the cleanings always coinciding with spring planting so I could spread the manure on the garden, till the ground, then plant. Never had any problems. The wood chips and shredded paper will help to tie up any excess nitrogen during microbial decomposition since the soil microbes will require nitrogen to multiply to break down the wood fiber. Once the material breaks down, the microbes start to die and release the nitrogen later in the season, giving you kind of a time release effect and moderating the nitrogen levels at any given time.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 3:14AM
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I am looking forward to using it in the garden in the spring. I started a compost pile with it and added some cleanup from the garden, cut grass, kitchen scraps, etc. Then the chickens found it. Oh well, I'll spread it on the garden next year. lol!

It's too late now. Here's our first garden yesterday:

Here's the other garden, behind the railing:

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 5:06AM
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I'm in the camp who plants pretty soon after manure applications. I took an organic gardening course in the early 70s where the instructor said that you could use fresh chicken manure as long as you applied it three weeks before planting. I followed that advice and never had a problem until the year when I convinced my new husband that chicken manure was the cat's meow. He, who never did things in half measures, took his dump truck to the chicken farm and brought back about 6 loads of chicken manure and dumped it in his half of our garden. I was supposed to spread it. Unfortunately (for him), it took me weeks to spread the piles and his half sat under the bulk of that manure until I was done. Then he planted his corn, which came up and keeled over. His tomatoes, same thing. He had a beautiful garden the following year. My half did swell.

Now I have my own chickens and I clean my house(s) out once a year---in the spring---and when the building starts to smell, I throw another bag of leaves, shredded paper, straw, wood shavings on top, trying for a good mix of of carbon to manure for in-house composting. I occasionally flip the litter until Dec. when I leave it alone. Last January I flipped the litter, and the composting bedding sent up steam like I'd just tossed water on sauna rocks. Unfortunately, I cooled the composting process off and killed it. I think I deprived the house of a lot of compost warmth that my hens would have appreciated here in zone 5 in January. I'm intrigued by the deep litter method, but I've never tried a different system. My litter is very broken down by April or May when I clean the henhouse and I've used it directly on the garden for the past two springs with good results. I am a little careful not to overapply and I fork it in lightly and I don't put it in a planting row that I plan to plant right away. I sidedress those rows.

If it were me, I wouldn't hesitate to dress my beds with it this fall. I see, though, that you've missed the boat as far as fall goes. You could put it on top of the snow if you wanted. Make sure the snow-covered rectangle you put it on is the garden and not the driveway.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 12:24PM
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