Every chicken breeder knows this poultry type produces a significant amount of manure. It is approximately one cubic meter of waste for six months per chicken, which creates a mess in your environment and spreads unpleasant odors. Besides, fresh chicken manure can contain harmful bacteria such as Escherichia Coli and Salmonella.
One of the solutions is to learn how to compost chicken manure before using it safely as an excellent addition to the soil. This procedure eliminates pathogenic microorganisms and unpleasant smells and allows you to enrich the soil with essential nutrients.
Poultry manure nutrient content
|Minerals||Deep litter||Cage manure||Broiler house|
|C/N ratio||9.5 to 11.5||5.8 to 7.6||9.4 to 11.2|
|Total nitrogen||1.70% to 2.20%||3.63% to 5.30%||2.40% to 3.60%|
|Calcium||0.90% to 1.10% mg/L||0.80% to 1% mg/L||0.86% to 1.11%|
|Magnesium||0.45% to 0.68% mg/L||0.40% to 0.56% mg/L||0.42% to 0.65%|
|Iron||930 to 1,380 mg/L||970 to 1,450 mg/L||970 to 1,370 mg/L|
|Manganese||210 to 380 mg/L||370 to 590 mg/L||190 to 350 mg/L|
|Zinc||90 to 308 mg/L||290 to 460 mg/L||160 to 315 mg/L|
|Copper||24 to 42 mg/L||80 to 172 mg/L||27 to 47 mg/L|
|Total P2O5||1.41% to 1.81%||1.54% to 2.90%||1.56% to 2.80%|
|Total K2O||0.93% to 1.30%||2.50% to 2.90%||1.40% to 2.31%|
What is a Chicken Manure?
Chicken manure is an excellent source of nutrients. Almost 85% of raw chicken droppings is water, while the rest is digestive juices, bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract, and undigested food.
- Leftover food
- Straw and hay
- Pine or cedar shavings
- Cut grass
- Shredded leaves
- Recycled paper
Chicken manure is one of the best farm fertilizers because it contains nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium. However, their value significantly varies depending on the chickens’ age and nutrition.
You can choose one of two possible ways to compost chicken poop, including:
The fastest way to use chicken manure is to use a warm system. It implies heating it to at least 130 F (54.4 C) for two weeks. High temperatures accelerate decomposition, destroy pathogenic bacteria, and reduce possible contamination.
Remember that temperatures above 160 F (71 C) negatively affect beneficial microorganisms and may slow the process. When choosing the hot composting process, it is necessary to pay attention to a few things, like:
Location – Select the spot for composting chicken manure and then organize it as a compost pile or put it into a compost bin. Take care to keep the composting material in place and prevent spreading.
Material – Add brown and green materials to your compost pile at a ratio of two parts brown material to one part green material. The brown part is rich in carbon, while the green one is an excellent nitrogen source.
Turning – Regular compost turning provides enough oxygen in a pile, speeding up the materials’ decomposition.
Internal temperature – Regular turning of the compost encourages the decomposition process and keep the internal temperature under control. Increased heat destroys harmful bacteria, making it safe for use.
Moisture level – Regularly monitor the compost pile’s moisture level and keep it drained but still wet. Spray the content with water when it seems dry, and cover it with a tarp before raining when it is sufficiently moist.
Aging – Composting chicken manure takes an optimal 90 days. During this period, you should continue to turn the compost and monitor the internal temperature and humidity. After this time, the compost is ready for use.
Another option is to use a cold method and keep manure in a compost bin, but be prepared that the material breaks down more slowly this way. It needs at least six months to decompose and additional 3 to 6 months to become more stable.
You can achieve equally successful on-site composting through the deep litter in the chicken coop or on track. It requires a proper ratio of nitrogen-rich and carbon-rich materials to decompose successfully.
The ratio of litter to manure depends on the bedding type you use. When nitrogen content is high, it is sometimes necessary to provide enough carbon-rich material, such as wood chips or shavings, cardboard, and dry leaves to balance the proportion.
Reasons to Compost
The simplest way is to use raw chicken droppings in the garden, but there are several reasons not to do this. The first and perhaps the most important reason is that it can harm and burn plants because of strong compounds.
Another reason is the possible presence of pathogenic bacteria like Escherichia Coli and Salmonella. Finally, no one enjoys the smell of fresh chicken poop, which makes working in the garden unpleasant.
How to Compost Chicken Manure
The composting process requires some effort and time, but it is worth it since you get a highly beneficial product in the end. There are four crucial steps to convert chicken droppings into valuable manure, including:
Step 1. Collecting
It is virtually impossible to teach chickens to get into the habit of defecating in a specific area. Therefore, you should make maintenance easier by inserting litter into your chicken coop. An additional benefit is that it simplifies the composting process.
The decision of how often you should change the bedding and collect the chicken droppings is on you. Some breeders change it daily, while others put in a large amount of litter and then change it quarterly.
Both ways are acceptable, but you should be aware of one thing. The longer the poop accumulates, the worse the smell will be. If you don’t like dealing with horrible odor, you should clean the coop more often.
Step 2. Combining
It is necessary to combine two different ingredient types to get quality compost. Breeders differentiate the brown and green stuff and take care to add both in the required proportions.
Brown materials are always natural, rich in carbon, and include the following:
- Shavings and dried pine needles
- Dried leaves and straw
- Corn husks
Green materials are also all-natural but rich in nitrogen and include:
- Chicken droppings
- Leftovers and garden scraps
- Hay, fresh-cut grass, and weeds
- Other livestock droppings, except for dog and cat poop
Bedding makes up the most significant part of the brown stuff and makes it much easier to combine composting materials. If there is not enough of it, you can add cardboard or old newspapers instead.
Chicken poop is considered green stuff. If you need more nitrogen-packed material, mix it with weeds, hay, and garden scraps.
Breeders use different proportions when combining brown and green things while composting, depending on available ingredients. For instance, you can make one of three common combinations, including:
- 1 part brown stuff and 2 parts of green stuff
- 1 part brown stuff and 1 part green stuff
- 2 parts of brown stuff and 1 part green stuff
Remember that chicken droppings may contain harmful substances, making the first and second options unsafe.
Step 3. Mixing
Place the prepared pile in your composter, spray it with water to keep it soft and moist, and let it heat up. Regularly check the temperature inside the compost pile, and keep it at 130 to 160 F (54.4 – 71 C) for several days. After that, it is necessary to turn it from time to time.
Step 4. Waiting
You should wait for months before using chicken manure. Turn it over occasionally and check the smell until it is ready for use.
Remember that the fertilizer is not ready as long as the odor is unpleasant and the color is not dark enough. Once you smell the earthy odor, you can be sure that the manure is ready to use, and you can spread it throughout the garden.
Chicken Manure Benefits
Chicken manure provides numerous benefits to the soil in your garden, such as:
- This manure is a natural fertilizer that adds nutrients to the soil, including nitrogen, calcium, potassium, sulfur, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, iron, and zinc
- It significantly improves soil structure, soil drainage, water retention, and soil aeration
- Ingredients this manure contains are food for valuable microbes in the soil
Since composted chicken manure is highly effective, it is a widely used fertilizer on farms. Its value is reflected in its composition, which includes:
- Crude protein – 18.7%
- Ash – 13%
- Carbohydrates – 11%
- Fiber – 7%
- Fat – 2.5%
- Nitrogen – 2.34%
- Phosphorus – 2.32%
- Potassium – 0.83%
You can use chicken manure compost in your garden, particularly when growing nitrogen-loving plants, such as:
- Tomatoes and peppers
- Squash, muskmelons, and cucumbers
- Lettuce and spinach
- Kale, Bok Choy, and Brussels Sprouts
- Legumes and rhubarb
- Sweet corn
- Pole beans and okra
- Mustard plant
An inevitable by-product of keeping chickens is chicken droppings. A lot of it! The simplest and most effective way to use it is to compost it. This valuable matter contains numerous nutrients, making it beneficial for your garden, particularly nitrogen-loving veggies and fruit. On the other hand, raw chicken poop harms plants, so you should never use it in that state.