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What's the scoop on using poop?

Posted by biggjoe 5, Indiana (My Page) on
Sun, Sep 12, 10 at 20:41

I'm working with a guy that raises chickens, Emus, and Peacocks. Not to mention he also raises donkeys. I've asked him about getting some of his "fowl poop" to use in my compost pile and garden and he said I can have as much as I want.

My question is, can I add the chicken, Emu, and Peacock poop directly to my compost pile now so my garden will be ready for next year? Or should I add to the compost bin and wait till next year and add to the garden in the spring?

I have a big compost bin that I'm hoping will be ready in a couple of months. Once I pull up my garden plants I would like to get the soil ready for next year by adding some compost and mixing in this fall. I'm sure I'll have compost ready this fall and I would like to get a good head start on the garden for next year. Just not sure if I should add the poop or not.

I think I've heard that chicken poop should be aged before added, but I'n not sure if that was meant for the garden or compost bin. And what about the donkey poop? Can that be added to the compost bin now? Thanks for all the help.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What's the scoop on using poop?

Chicken manure is high in N, so if it is used when fresh it can burn. If you compost it, that's not a problem. You'll probably want to mix plenty of high carbon materials (leaves from trees, sawdust, shredded paper, etc) with the manure to make sure it doesn't stink while it decomposes.


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RE: What's the scoop on using poop?

Since you're in zone 5, I'm guessing you don't have much of a winter garden. If you're not growing crops, it's fine to put the manure directly on the garden. BPGREEN is correct that you shouldn't put it too close to plants when it's fresh, because it will burn them just like too much inorganic fertilizer will. If you're growing a winter cover crop on your garden, the manure won't damage it enough to matter, as a few burned leaves on clover, rye, vetch, etc. isn't the same as killing your best tomato plant.

The high nitrogen from the manure and fall leaves are a perfect combination. If you don't have room in your compost bin because you've got a batch already in progress, then make a big pile of leaves and manure in the center of your garden area. By spring you will have a great mixture to spread over the garden. If you spread the pile out and pile it up again a few times between now and spring, it will help the composting go a bit faster and break the leaves down into smaller bits, but the leaves will still be a great soil amendment even if they have not fully broken down by spring planting.

The only soil amendments better than leaves or manure are the two mixed together.

Greg


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RE: What's the scoop on using poop?

All animal manures, including poultry, should be properly composted befroe being added to garden soil for a large numer of reasons. Fresh manure can have very soluble nutrients that can easily be leached out of soil with water and those nutrients not only would not be available to plants they would be a pollutant. proper composting all mnaures also lowers the chance that potential disease pathogens, that are present in all manures, are disabled and will not be present on the foods being grown in that soil. Current recommendations for adding manures to gardens is they should not be added sooner than 90 days to harvest for above ground crops or 120 days fro root crops.


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RE: What's the scoop on using poop?

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Mon, Sep 13, 10 at 8:18

"Current recommendations for adding manures to gardens is they should not be added sooner than 90 days to harvest for above ground crops or 120 days fro root crops."

***SAFETY ALERT***

That is not what current recommendations really say.

Lloyd


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RE: What's the scoop on using poop?

  • Posted by lcpw z6 St Louis (My Page) on
    Mon, Sep 13, 10 at 10:27

Kimmsr, I don't grow root crops, so I might not be thinking about this right ... but if one ought to wait 120 days between applying manure and harvesting root crops, wouldn't that mean that autumn was the right time to do it? That is - I'm imagining that a root crop might be planted in the spring and harvested in the late summer or early fall, and that at least some root crops would have growing times of less than 120 days. So in that circumstance, wouldn't a gardener who was planning ahead be incorporating the manure in autumn, in order that it could age in place (in the soil) over the winter and be in good shape for the next year's root crop?

And - if Bigjoe is incorporating compost into his garden in the autumn, wouldn't a moderate amount of poultry manure be a fine addition? That is - I do realize that manures if handled poorly can pollute groundwater, but I was imagining that if a moderate amount of a high-nitrogen manure like poultry was mixed with a larger amount of a good active compost, and the two were incorporated into the soil, that an active soil food web would make the leaching away of nutrients minimal. Am I giving the soil-food-web too much credit here? Or are you just warning against OVER-doing it? (What bigjoe described sounded good to me, as long as the quantities were appropriate!)


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RE: What's the scoop on using poop?

You could get a load of wood chips delivered from a tree trimming services and mix the manure with the wood chips. If you left these in a pile in the corner of your garden, you could then use the enriched wood chips to heavily mulch the the middles of your rows when you plant. Once your crops are growing, you could pull some of the mulch from the row middles up closer to your plants to prevent weeds, conserve moisture, and give your plants a side dress of fertilizer.

The two posts above are correct about being careful using fresh manure to avoid contamination of food crops. It is less of a problem if you know where the manure comes from. I don't mean the obvious source of the manure, but under what conditions the animals were raised and what they were fed. Manure from large scale factory farms (like the egg farms recently in the news), are much more likely to contain harmful pathogens because of the bizarre feeds given to them.

While home poultry keepers feed their animals primarily grains and vegetable matter, factory farm chicken and egg producers routinely feed the chicken the remains of diseased cattle that are deemed unfit for human consumption. The manure from these chicken is then fed to the cattle, whose remains are then fed to the chickens again. This pathogen "merry-go-round" produces the contaminated meat and poultry sold to consumers. The meat and eggs produced from these systems are bad enough, but I can't imagine the pathogens in the feces of these animals.

You friend is more likely feeding grain, hay, and grass to his donkeys, while his birds eat corn, oats, soy meal, bugs, and maybe a lizard if they can catch it. Unlike commercial producers, he probably is not feeding his peafowl manure to his donkey, donkey manure to his chickens, and sick chickens to his emu.

Leaving the manure on your garden for 5 months would be safe. Composting the manure for 3 months will give plenty of time for the beneficial mesophiles and thermophiles in the compost to dispose of any pathogens.


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RE: What's the scoop on using poop?

Thanks everyone for the replies. I'm going to ask my friend for a few 5gal bucket fulls(my garden is about 50sq ft) for my compost bin and garden. I've still got beans and pepper plants and 1 tomato plant growing in the garden, so I'm not ready to mix in the chicken poop yet.


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RE: What's the scoop on using poop?

lcpw, what else is in the soil or will be added to the soil with the manure? Adding manure in the fall is, as long as no edible crops are being grown, within those guidelines, however, if there is insufficient levels or other organic matter, ie. the manure is the only thing being added, then the winter rains and snow could leach all of the nutrients that manure contains out of the soil so they pollute the ground water. Composting that manure first will help satbilize those nutrients so they will not leach out and be there for the plants that do grow.
The odors generated by "stored" manure are nutrients going away, so the sooner manure is added to a compost pile, 3 parts vegetative waste to 1 part manure, the more nutrients from that manure will be captured and not lost to the atmosphere or the ground water.


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