composting chicken manure in the city

civ_IV_fanJune 7, 2011

I have a friend who keeps chickens in the country and will give me however much chicken manure i want. I will probably taken thirty or forty gallons worth, or whatever i can fit in my station wagon in buckets. I want to compost it in my backyard until it is ready for the garden. I have about an eighth of an acre in the city. I am wondering if the manure will stink? I'm guessing not since chickens have a pretty boring diet, but thought I would ask before doing this.

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tn_gardening

It will have an odor (everything does). I'd cover it with something to be on the safe side (leaves, grass clippings, tarp, hay, etc.).

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 9:46AM
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annpatt

I don't know of any manure that smells stronger than chicken manure, but it doesn't have to. Mine is composted immediately, for the most part, in the chicken house, and doesn't usually smell too bad. But, don't worry, that's what your browns are for---covering up your odoriferous contributions.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 10:35AM
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civ_IV_fan

so i think what i will do is something like 1.5 cubic feet then a layer of leaves then 1.5 more than a layer of leaves - i will do this for four or so layers. will this compost readily or will i need to stir it up occasionally and then cover with leaves? i'm a compost newbie.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 10:44AM
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californian

I got seven gallons of chicken manure that looked like mud that I scraped off the floor of someones free range chicken coop. That stuff had such a powerful bad odor I could smell it 70 feet away if the wind was blowing in the right direction. It took several weeks for the smell to finally go away. I can only imagine how bad the quantity you are talking would smell. I won't get fresh chicken manure ever again, even if free.
BTW, I worked for a few months in Forest , Mississippi for a few months where they had a chicken processing plant. The smell was so bad it would stink up the whole town miles away from the plant.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 11:14AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

A properly constructed compoat pile will have no obnoxious odor. If a compost pile does produce an ammonia like odor the mix has too much Nitrogen and needs more carbons. If the compost pile has a putrid odor there is too much moisture in the mix and it needs to be turned and some dry material added to help reduce the moisture level.
Keep in mind that some local units of government with very narrow visions restrict your ability to compost by banning compost piles within their jurisdiction.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 5:43PM
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mustard_seeds(4 -Onalaska Wisconsin)

what sort of browns will you mix in to the manure?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 7:16PM
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civ_IV_fan

the browns would be leaves that i have piled up from last fall. honestly i think i am going to skip this. i really can't risk the smell on my small lot.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 3:52PM
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annpatt

No, no, no. You do not want to miss out on chicken manure! It's the best manure there is! If your friend's chicken house is maintained well, the slight chicken manure odor will be easily quelled by your browns.

Californian's scant seven gallons of chicken manure does not an expert make. In fact, I cannot imagine any compost pile that cannot easily handle seven mere gallons of chicken manure---even the smelliest chicken manure. Get a load and see what you think. I know what I thought after my first load, "Where can I get me some more of that stuff?"

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 9:30PM
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mustard_seeds(4 -Onalaska Wisconsin)

Oh yes, the leaves as browns -now I see you already had said that. Oh my gosh that is a perfect set up. I know you are worried about odor, but with old leaves you will do GREAT!!! Layering like you described is perfect! You can decide how much moisture - if it does not get too wet and you have a good supply of leaves or other browns, you should be fine and there should not be an odor problem.

Are you saying that you are considering not starting composting at all? I suspect you would love small scale urban composting SO much that one day you would look back and laugh that you had considered "not" to do it. Or if you have already started composting other things with those leaves, I agree with Annpat, the chicken waste is awesome and you could always start with less manure if you are nervous and work your way up as you see how great it works in the compost. - Rachel

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 9:08AM
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californian

Composting chicken manure might be fine for people who live out in the country on large lots, but if you live in an area like me where the lots are only 50 feet wide, some even smaller, you have to have some consideration for your neighbors even if you can stand the smell.
I was even considering shoveling up all that seven gallons of chicken manure and throwing it in the garbage can for the garbage man to take away. Also be prepared for flies. I had no flies in my yard until I put the chicken manure there.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 10:55AM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

If you have enough carbon (leaves), there will be no smell. I'd worry more about how your car smelled after transporting it. ;-)

tj

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 4:31PM
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lisascenic

My sister composts chicken manure in Brooklyn. If she can do it, anyone can!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 8:37PM
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civ_IV_fan

thanks everyone. maybe i'll start with one or two buckets and see how it goes. i can easily cover every bit of it with last falls leaves.

i do have a compost bin in the corner of my lot. it works pretty well but a second bin would help so that i could have a place for finished compost.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 9:06AM
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tn_gardening

civ_IV_fan

When the compost is finished, put it in the garden :-)

I honestly think you will be just fine with covering the chicken poop with leaves. You can simply get a cheap trash can or just use plastic bags.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 12:20PM
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