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Making Chicken Manure Compost for Garden Plants

Making Chicken Manure Compost for Home Garden or Composting chicken manure: Chicken manure contains more amount of nitrogen than almost any other type which aids in strong leaf and stem growth. Gardeners call it black gold.  Though, adding fresh chicken manure to gardens can burn the leaves and the plant roots. Composted chicken manure mellows out the nitrogen and will not harm plants. Each chicken produces approximately one cubic foot of manure every 6 months.

A guide to chicken manure compost making process for garden

Composting chicken manure mellows the nitrogen and makes the manure suitable for the plants. Composted chicken manure adds organic matter back into the soil and contributes nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to the soil. In this article we also discussed the following topics;

  • Is chicken manure good for compost
  • How long do you have to wait to use chicken poop in your garden
  • Process for composting chicken manure
  • Chicken manure benefits
  • How to use compost chicken manure in the garden
  • How do you compost chicken manure

Benefits of Chicken manure

Chicken manure is too strong to be used raw on flowers or vegetables, it can be composted and converted to “black gold”.  If used without composting it could damage plant roots and possibly kill your plants, however, once it is composted chicken manure is;

Benefits of Chicken Manure.
Benefits of Chicken Manure.
  • A good soil amendment, chicken manure adds organic matter and then increases the water holding capacity and beneficial biota in soil.
  • A good fertilizer; chicken manure can provides Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium to your plants (more than horse, cow or steer manure).

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Reasons to start composting chicken manure

  1. Adding the manure directly to the garden can spread pathogenic organisms to the soil and can be picked up by low growing leafy greens and fruit.
  2. Fresh manure will burn the plant’s roots and leaves as it is too strong or “hot” unless it is composted.

Composted chicken manure is good for plants

If you’re composting your chicken manure, you want to be sure that the fresh poop is composted with a generous amount of carbon-rich straw or bedding. As with any composting you want a combination of carbon and nitrogen to create the perfect environment for soil microbes to get to work.

As the chicken manure sits for a while, the microbes in the soil break it down into nutrients our fruit plants can absorb and use. While this magical composting procedure happens, some of the excess nitrogen evaporates as ammonia gas. The compost needs to be turned several times and experts suggest the mixture age for at least 6 months before applying to fruit trees and plants.

After composting, the chicken manure will have small amounts of the three main nutrients all plants need including nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). And chicken manure packs a bigger punch than composted manure from other animals. Because, sheep, cow and other composted manure are about 1% N, 1% P and 1% K by weight. While, Chicken manure, on the other hand, can reach 5% N, 3% P and 2% K by weight.

As another bonus, manure from egg-laying hens contains more calcium by weight thanks to the eggshell production procedure. Calcium strengthens the cells in fruit, shoots and plant roots for healthier and more tasty and juicy fruit. So for a natural product, it seems you have a lot to gain and little to lose when spreading a small quantity of composted chicken manure over the roots of your fruit trees.

Containers for composting chicken manure

Composting bins can be made from different materials. Do it yourself style compost systems are easy to put together. Using a few wooden pallets, a series of 3 bins gives you a system for composting chicken manure. When less space is obtainable, chicken wire can be formed into a bin for containing the coop waste.

Step by step instructions for composting chicken manure

Before you start composting chicken manure follow these step by step instructions;

  • Your compost bin must be easily accessible, have no gaps, and have a lid or covering.
  • Put your composting bin in a semi-shaded area with a preference to soil or turf surfaces.
  • Start collecting table scraps, leaves, grass clippings, soiled litter, and hay, etc.
  • Make sure you have an equal amount of greens and browns then your compost pile will decompose properly.
  • Stir it or use a compost tumbler, often and let it rot
  • Let it dry on compost drying trays

Chicken manure composting gives the manure time to break down some of the powerful nutrients so that they are more usable by the plants. Composting chicken manure is very simple. If you have chickens, you can use the bedding from own chickens. If you do not own chickens, you can locate a farmer who owns chickens and they will likely be happy to give you the used chicken bedding. The next important step in chicken manure composting is to take the used bedding and put it into a compost bin. Water it thoroughly and turn the pile every few weeks to get air into the pile. It takes about 6 to 9 months, on average, for chicken manure compost to be done properly. The amount of time it takes for composting chicken manure depends on the conditions under which it is composted. If you are uncertain how well your chicken manure has been composted, you can wait up to 12 months to use chicken manure compost. Once you have finished chicken manure composting, then it is ready to use. Then simply spread the chicken manure compost evenly over the garden. Work the compost into the soil with a shovel or a tiller.

Some recommendations to start composting chicken manure

Here are some recommendations to get you started using chicken manure in the compost pile;

Collect manure and bedding – Chicken owners use bedding such as shavings, sawdust, dry leaves, or straw to provide a dry cushion for chickens and to control odor and pests. The coop bedding could be collected with the manure and dumped into a composting bin. Some owners choose to pick manure and soiled bedding out of the coop daily; and others will add new bedding over droppings and collect on a less frequent basis.

Carbon to Nitrogen balance – A combination of 30 parts Carbon to 1 part Nitrogen creates the ideal environment for microbes to break down organic material to make compost. The different beddings have their C: N ratio and the proportion of bedding to manure will vary depending on the type of bedding used. To keep things simple composters follow the general rule of 1 part brown to 2 parts green. However, chicken manure is so high in Nitrogen you may be more successful using a 1:1 or even a 2:1 mixture.

Use a “hot compost” recipe –  By combining the correct ratio of bedding and manure at one time to form a pile, about one cubic yard, and then adding moisture (material must be about as wet as a well-wrung sponge), will produce a hot pile.  It is recommended that the compost pile heat to 130-150F and maintain that temperature for 3 days.  Heating is essential to destroy pathogens but temperatures above 160F can kill beneficial microorganisms and slow the process.  To help you to achieve the appropriate temperature you can purchase a compost temperature gauge from a local nursery.

Repeat the heating process – Once the center of your compost pile has reached 130-150 degrees for 3 days it will start to cool. After that, it cools, pull the center apart and move the core material to the edges and bring the edge material into the center to heat.  For 1 cubic yard of material repeat the procedure of bringing edges into the core at least 3 times.

Let it cure – Monitor the pile and once you are satisfied that the entire contents of your bin have been heated, loosely cover and let cure for 45 to 60 days before using. It is ready when most material is dark, crumbly and sweet-smelling like soil.

Add to garden – Then you can add the resulting compost to the vegetable garden or flower bed by spreading it on the surface or by gently working it into existing soil.

Cautions when composting chicken manure

Most chicken owners know that fresh chicken manure can have Salmonella or E.Coli bacteria. Also, the fresh manure has too much ammonia to use as a fertilizer and the odor makes it unpleasant to be around. However, when properly composted, chicken manure is an excellent soil amendment. Compost does not have the unpleasant odor and chicken manure compost adds organic matter back into the soil and contributes nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to the soil.

Safety precautions for composting chicken manure

  • Always wear gloves when handling manure.
  • Do not add cat, dog, or pig feces into compost.
  • Always wash make thoroughly before eating. Individuals with compromised health should not eat raw food from manure fed garden.

Use chicken manure as garden fertilizer

Chicken manure introduces more essential nutrients into the soil than other types, for example, steer manure. This fertilizer might not beat chemical fertilizers in the N-P-K rating, it gives your soil something those fertilizers don’t structure. It serves as a soil amendment with plant food, improving drainage in dense soils and water-retention abilities in loamy soils. Fresh manure brings dangers for you and your plants, so to use chicken manure, start with properly composted or aged versions in the spring and fall.

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Chicken Manure as a Garden Fertilizer.
Chicken Manure as a Garden Fertilizer.

Chicken manure is considered a very “hot” manure. It’s rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which makes it great to use compost. Never use fresh chicken manure as a side dressing or on top of the soil around plants. Fresh chicken manure will “burn” plants and this is because the plants are getting too much of a good thing. If you should use fresh chicken manure, work it into the garden in fall. Work composted chicken manure into garden soil in spring or fall.

Some applications of composting chicken manure

As a soil conditioner

Chicken manure is the best of organic fertilizers that you could apply to get results from demanding plants, fruit bushes and trees, and lawns. Chicken manure has sufficient quantities of the major nutrients P and K plus a full range of minor Green Veg grow greener nutrients too. These all nutrients come out of complex organic matter as soil bacteria break it down. Chicken manure contains plenty of calcium and has an alkaline pH level of 6.5 to 8. Despite the release of nitrogen-containing ammonium which by itself acidifies the soil, chicken manure could raise your soil pH. Ammonium tends to stick to clay soils. So all this is ideal for brassicas such as cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and celery. Add to this organic matter and you have a superb soil conditioner capable of opening up clay soils and only 150grams per square meter is needed for clays. 

Killing Pathogens

Like all fresh manure, untreated chicken manure carries bacteria and also pathogens that can infect humans. These don’t harm plants, but they remain in the soil for up to a year, ready to tag along on hands as you work in the garden or on your vegetables that touch the soil and a reason to always wear gloves when you work with manure. To reduce the chances of contamination, use chicken manure that was composted with high heat that is at least 131Fahrenheit for at least 15 days. Alternatively, select manure that has aged for at least a year.  Carefully wash vegetables grown in chicken manure before eating them. The bacteria might not hurt the plants, but fresh manure is potent enough to burn plant roots and killing them. Though, composting or aging the manure solves this problem as well.

Compatible plants

The nutrients from chicken manure tend to work well with edible gardens, including fruits, leafy vegetables and also root vegetables. The pH level varies depending on many factors, including the chicken’s age and food, but chicken manure leans toward alkaline with a pH level of 6.5 to 8.0.

Application times

Applying the fertilizer in the fall helps the soil absorb and break down the nutrients so they’re readily obtainable when you’re ready to plant in the spring. Using the chicken manure in the spring gives a quick boost of nitrogen to the garden plants, helping them start strong.

Amount of chicken manure should you use on trees

If you are using composted chicken manure, start with spreading just 1 inch of the fertilizer around the roots of a tree in the early spring and see how it affects the growth and production of your tree.

If you are using Acti-Sol, you could want to choose the formulation specifically for fruit trees that`s 4% nitrogen, 6% phosphorus and 8% potassium by weight (look for 4-6-8 and photos of fruit trees on the package). Acti-Sol added bone meal and natural potash to its multipurpose hen manure to meet the needs of hard-working fruit plants. The extra boost of phosphorus and potassium could help with flower buds and fruit formation.



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