Composting Chicken Manure?

jungleexplorerDecember 24, 2012

I have a large chicken flock and as a result I get a lot of chicken manure. I know that chicken manure is really hot and must be composted before use. I was wondering what would be the best way to compost chicken manure, how long it takes to compost it and the best way to use it in a greenhouse (i.e. straight, mixed with other stuff etc.). Also, I am raising a lot of chicks this year and I use a lot of newspaper in my brooder (Thrifty Nickle). I get about a 50 gallon can full of newspaper mixed with chick droppings a month. Is it okay to compost the newspaper with the droppings? Thanks for the help.

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What size garden do you have and what is a lot of chickens/chicken manure? I think it would be great to have the newspaper composted with the manure. You will probably have to add some greens though

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 5:24PM
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Poultry manures should be mixed in a ratio of 1 part manure to 3 parts vegetative waste and part of that vegetative waste could be newspaper. Since the chicken manure is the source of Nitrogen there should be no need to add more "greens" to that mix as a source of Nitrogen.
I would not use any animal manure that has not been properly composted anywhere plants were growing.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 6:10AM
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reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

When I had chickens I composted all the dirty chicken bedding. I covered the henhouse floor with pine shavings and composted that when I cleaned out the house. I would also scatter straw, veggie garden scraps, and alfalfa hay in the chicken yard, and compost all that when it was used up and dirty. This stuff made the best compost. I used it in the garden though, as a soil amendment, not as a container mix.

Soiled newspaper will be fine.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 12:38PM
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I would say that I might get a 100 pounds each month. I have a greenhouse I want to use it in. I have never composted before. The first thing I need to know is how to compost it. Do I just pile it up in a heap, dig a hole and bury it, or build a bin or something?

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 12:19AM
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The link below is to one of trhe best tutorials on compoating I have found.

Here is a link that might be useful: Composting Tutorial

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 7:13AM
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thanks for the link. According to the info from the link, "Materials high in nitrogen are called "greens", e.g. grass clippings, manure, and kitchen scraps. Materials high in carbon are called "browns", e.g. leaves, sawdust, and wood chips. "

So chicken manure is considered to be "Greens". Since wood chips and saw dust are considered "Browns" would newspaper be considered to be a brown? The reason I ask is because I don't have a supply of leaves, wood chips or saw dust. About the best I could do is dry grass clippings where I am at.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 11:59AM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

Newspapers are indeed browns. The easiest way to describe composting is to gather things into a pile and let it sit. The bigger the pile, the quicker it composts, turning the pile will make it compost quicker too. If you live in a dry area (like I do) adding moisture will help it compost quicker. If you live in a wet/humid area, adding more water will likely make it stink. The smaller the pieces are in the pile, the quicker it will compost. Of course, that is one of the beauties of chickens, they scratch the straw, pine shavings or newspaper into smaller pieces, making a compost that will break down quicker.

Now, if I had a greenhouse (or a large enough one), I would make my compost pile in the greenhouse so that it would help to keep the greenhouse warmer in the winter, but that is because I have a bad reaction to high electric bills.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 1:32PM
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Also, grass clippings are greens so they won't act as browns when mixed with chicken manure. I find I can gather compost components in suprizing ways. For example, dead leaves accumulate along a road against a fence of a golf course near my home. Nobody cleans up those leaves and so they just sit there all year. I go harvest for my compost pile. I also am watchful in the fall for my neighbours cleaning up their leaves. I just ask them and they usually donate. I also find manures and saw dusts in the classifieds, which are usually free. At work I can take shredded documents and use them as browns. A good source of chicken manure to compost, in my opinion, would be awsome for my garden.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 3:43PM
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I have 21 chickens, housed in two separate houses. I try to make my chicken manure compost in the chicken house (deep litter method), but I use wood shavings (In addition to leaves and straw), so, because of the shavings, I usually pile it up outdoors or add it to other compost piles before I use it.

I have used VERY fresh chicken manure in gardens with great results (I only "burned" one garden), but I would no longer do that on edibles.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 6:30PM
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I live out in the west Texas country. The only trees around me are mesquite trees and they have tini tiny leaves and not a lot of of those with this drought. I could work all day and not pick up a gallon of them. Not sure where to get browns if I can't use the natural dry grass around me. I am not talking about yard grass; I am talking about the tall wild grass that grow naturally in the forest. You could call it hay, but it is so dry that it is devoid of any nutrition and cannot be used for grazing all by itself. If I had a wood chipper I have plenty of mesquite I could turn into chips, but it is not worth it to compost if I have to spend lot's of money to make the stuff. I just wanted to make use of this chicken manure instead of just throwing it away. I mean, I have to shovel it out of my coop anyways and it would not be extra work to put it in a composting bin. But if it is going to be a lot of extra work and money, it is not worth it to do it.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 11:31PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I use prarie type grasses, shredded paper and cardboard work too. Compost can be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be but whatever you are using as bedding is probably sufficient enough.

If I recall correctly, I think that Will Allen will use worms to work through his chicken bedding and manure before using it in his gardens. It is absolutely possible to do something with your manure for compost without spending a lot of money to do it.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 1:16PM
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Prairie Grass! That was the name I was looking for. My birds are free range so I use no bedding. They only sleep in the coop, but the rest of the time they are outside roaming the prairie.

I like simple, efficient and practical.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 3:47PM
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Those west texas tall grasses once dried would probably do well as browns. When I said grass I meant Kentucky Bluegrass clippings from the yard. I did not even think that you could mean something else lol. Yes by all means use that as browns. Don't know for sure what you have, but we had a lot of bufflegrass down in far South Texas when I lived there. That would work great!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 4:57PM
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We have 13 chickens. They have a coop inside our shed. The concrete floor is covered with about 3-4 inches of pine shavings, and we add to that as needed to freshen the coop, and turn everything each week. About once a month we shovel the dirty shavings out into the chickens' run and replace the coop's shavings. We feed the chickens kitchen scraps out in the run, add leaves and grass clippings, straw and more pine shavings. We mix in food grade diatomaceous earth as well. The chickens scratch and aerate the layers, and every 2-3 months, we rake off the top few layers and shovel out the rich compost on the bottom. We've been adding that to new flower beds we will plant in this spring, and to our currently empty raised beds that we will have edibles in this spring. Overall, the compost will have between 6-9 months of age before it ever touches a plant. There is no way I'd put fresh chicken manure anywhere near edibles without it composting properly. Used properly, chicken manure makes an amazing fertilizer/amendment.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 9:14PM
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Dried tall grass will be fine as browns. You might find sources of straw or corn stover, and even in rural areas there will be people with wood chips. I prefer wood chips because I can get many cubic yards at a time, and many tree companies will dump them on your driveway for free. Once you have a pile, you are going to balance chcken manure in compost for a few years.

To find browns: even with no trees, the utilities still have to clear brush from under power lines for example. You can look on Craigslist, which is where I get manure these days. People may have stacks of cardboard to give.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 11:13PM
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