Composting Chicken Poop (Manure)
If you have chickens, then you have an abundance of chicken poop. In the interest of getting the most out of everything, I decided to compost the poop to use as fertilizer for the garden.
Chicken poop, or manure if you are proper, is full of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. This is great news for your garden! However, raw poop will burn your plants if it’s put directly into your garden soil. The poop needs a chance to break down to get rid of any parasites, salmonella, or any pathogens that might be present.
You can add your chicken poop to your regular composting bin. Or you can compost it separately. I choose to compost chicken poop in its own bin that I can keep near the coop. It makes my job easier when cleaning out the coop if I place my bins just outside the door.
I use a 3 bin system for composting my chicken poop. The first is for storing shavings (brown material). The second is for storing the hot compost (a mixture of brown and green material). And the third is for curing the composted poop.
There are some really great ideas on Pinterest for building your own compost bins. I like the repurposed trash can system for a few reasons. First, they are easy to move if you need to transport them from the coop to the garden. Second, they don’t require any special skills to make. Third, they keep everything neat and clean.
Composting chicken poop is a different ratio of brown to green material than regular composting. You will want to strive for a ratio of 2 parts brown material to 1 part green material. For the discussion here I am going to assume that you have a separate compost bin for your kitchen scraps. You can read my post about Composting in the Winter to find out about the types of material that can be used in that compost bin.
My brown material consists of the pine shavings from the floor of my coop and the straw from the nesting boxes. My chicken coop has a linoleum floor so there isn’t any dirt mixed in with the shavings. I clean the shavings out of the coop every 3 months on average. The shavings are pretty ground down in the main walkways by the time I clean them out. There are some larger pieces in the corners and under the nesting boxes that take a little longer to break down.
Good ‘ole chicken poop (manure). That’s it. I have a poop deck filled with sand under the roost. I use a kitty litter scoop and a small bucket to clean the poop deck every day. Sometimes every other day if I’m busy. Some sand does make it into the bins, especially if I am in a hurry and don’t take the time to let if sift through the scoop.
How long does it take?
Your finished product will take about a year to complete. You want to give the chicken poop time to heat up to kill all of the unhealthy stuff inside. It needs time to cure after it has been heated and has broken down where there are no visible shavings or straw pieces. Cover it and forget about it for at least 2 months. When it’s ready it should be dark brown or black and have a sweet smelling odor like soil.
Using this method to break down your chicken waste will give you an effective way to dispose of an unpleasant material. You will create free fertilizer for your garden that will yield a more plentiful harvest. If you have a large flock you might even have enough to sell to other gardeners which will put extra money in your pocket.