We live in a very environmentally friendly era. We go green-we recycle, we conserve energy, we grow our own vegetables and grains, and we compost. Enter a lovely small backyard flock of chickens and composting just got a whole lot easier! Adding chicken manure to your compost bin is a wise decision not only because it allows you to recycle soiled bedding, but its advantageous effects on your garden soil are egg-ceptional!
The Scoop on Chicken Poop
For all of us backyard chicken keepers in the know, chicken manure is the paramount ingredient in creating great compost! It’s readily available, both fortunately and unfortunately! It’s free! It’s environmentally friendly! And, this “Black Gold” as it is lovingly referred to by us is chock full of egg-cellent stuff! Once composted, its abundant organic material enriches the soil. It also significantly boosts the moisture retention and beneficial biota in the ground as well. Your gorgeous green plants and vigorous vegetables will also heartily reap the rewards as they feed on the mighty minerals found in chicken manure- Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus. Definitely, a win-win situation! That being said, let’s scoop the poop and get composting!
Hi Ho, Hi Ho, A Composting We Go…
In order to create compost, the ingredients need to decompose or cook so to speak. Now while chicken manure is indeed full of wonderful nutrients for your plants, it should never be added immediately or directly to your gardens as the high nitrogen content would burn the plants.
Creating compost is not a complex process, but it is a careful process. By following a basic recipe, making compost will be a piece of cake!
30-50% Chicken manure and bedding(this is referred to as the green part because the manure is fresh and more moist)
50-70% Leaves, branches, twigs, dried grass clippings and weeds (this is referred to as the brown part because the materials are dryer and/or dead)
Gather the appropriate ratio of ingredients. As chicken keepers who need to scoop the poop daily, the gathering can be an ongoing process.
After you’ve filled up your compost bin with your collection of green and brown parts, thoroughly wet down the mixture.
After a few days, the mixture will begin to “cook” or rise in temperature. This is normal. Ideally, you want your compost concoction to heat up to approximately 54-65 degrees Celsius. This heating process is necessary to destroy harmful microorganisms, but if the heat rises higher, closer to 71 degrees Celsius, the good stuff could be killed in the process. You may find it helpful to purchase a compost thermometer so you don’t have to worry about guess-timates!
Maintain this temperature for 3 days!
Time to mix it up a bit! At this point, you want to take a pitch fork and break up the pile. Pull the pile apart moving the inside materials toward the outside and vice versa. This way the outside parts will be able to “cook”.
Repeat the heating up and mixing steps at least three times.
At this point, your concoction is now a bona fide compost heap!
Patience, patience, though, because your compost is not quite ready yet to bestow it’s goodness upon your waiting soil. Allow the compost to sit gently covered for approximately two months. When it takes on a lovely sweet smelling scent and is a beautiful black color with a crumbly consistency, voila…Black Gold!
Enjoying the Fruits of You and Your Chook’s Labour!
Ah, labor never felt or tasted so good! Time for a much needed break though. So, go ahead and relax in your beautiful backyard listening to your beloved chooks forage and cluck happily nearby while you gaze adoringly at your eggs-quisite flower beds and partake of your vibrant sweet carrots, juicy ripe tomatoes, and fresh green lettuce.
For more ideas on what to do with your egg-cess chicken poop, check out our manure tea ideas here.
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