Wednesday, 14 February 2007

talking of chicken poo ...

Okay, so, let's talk chicken poo.

Is everyone ready?

Issue the first: Chicken's excrete a LOT. You put a board under their perch because they do most of it at night - this keeps it off the floor of the hen house and you just scrape the board off every week or so and then clean the house out properly when the woodshavings or the straw that you are using as floor covering gets manky (you shouldn't use hay, as it harbours fleas).

Issue the second: Chickens excrete their urea as solids - ie, they don't pee, it's the white bits in the poo. This makes the excrement VERY high in nitrates, which means that it is hell to compost. It takes ages to break down, and if it hasn't properly, it will burn the roots of your plants, which is, clearly, a Bad Thing.

The easy way to solve this is just to pile your chicken poo up in a separate composting pile and leave it for longer than you ordinarily would. Or you can put some of it in a forty gallon drum, top it up with water and then leave it for six months and you end up with fabulous liquid feed.

Apparently.

I am prepared to try this, provided someone else (B) does the mixing bit for me, because at the moment even the thought of it makes me chuck.

However, I've been thinking about ways to accelerate the process - and I am wondering about worms.

I read an article somewhere (it might have been from a comment someone left on Jamie's site), that reckons that you can keep rabbits in your greenhouse in cages with wire bottoms, that then allow the droppings to fall through on to the ground, where you run your wormery. This keeps the greenhouse warm in the winter and means that you have instant compost underneath the cages.

Now clearly, it isn't practical to keep the chickens in cages in the greenhouse - and to be honest I'm not that sure how practical keeping rabbits in the greenhouse would be on a long-term basis - the summer hotness and the smallness of the space being two impractical things.

However, has anyone got any thoughts about (or even experience of) using worms to accelerate the breakdown of chicken poo? My main worry is that it will be too high in nitrates for the worms and therefore just kill them off. At the moment, it's backing up a bit, in piles. So any thoughts towards a solution would be really appreciated.



18 comments:

  1. I'll talk chicken poo!

    We just throw ours in our main compost heap, along with the duck straw, our kitchen vegetable waste, piles of raked leaves, lots of outdoor plant waste, etc. We then proceed to NOT turn it, not look after it...in short, to do everything the opposite of what's recommended. Once a year we abandon the current pile and move on to a new one. Eventually we notice that the old pile has turned into (mostly) lovely soil, and we sieve it and throw it on the garden.

    Not very scientific, eh? I guess the reason it works for us is that we have room for a two-year backlog of compost. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll talk chicken poo!

    We just throw ours in our main compost heap, along with the duck straw, our kitchen vegetable waste, piles of raked leaves, lots of outdoor plant waste, etc. We then proceed to NOT turn it, not look after it...in short, to do everything the opposite of what's recommended. Once a year we abandon the current pile and move on to a new one. Eventually we notice that the old pile has turned into (mostly) lovely soil, and we sieve it and throw it on the garden.

    Not very scientific, eh? I guess the reason it works for us is that we have room for a two-year backlog of compost. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=111596

    I hope that link works. And I hope it helps!

    ReplyDelete
  4. http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=111596

    I hope that link works. And I hope it helps!

    ReplyDelete
  5. http://www.seattletilth.org/resources/articles/compostingchickenmanure

    and also:

    http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/vermicompost107.shtml

    of course, they didn't mean chicken shit to me!

    ReplyDelete
  6. http://www.seattletilth.org/resources/articles/compostingchickenmanure

    and also:

    http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/vermicompost107.shtml

    of course, they didn't mean chicken shit to me!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I don't know about using worms - the urea might frazzle them, but, I do know about composting bird poo. We used to have cockatiels (now gone and very much missed :-) ) I used to compost their doings - I just placed everything in a black plastic bin bag along with some other compostible stuff - small parrots don't create much poo so it was necessary to add extras. Within about 4 - 6 months we had wonderful compost. The plastic creates heat and it all rots down wonderfully. I used to add a bit when I was planting seedlings and it worked really well.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I don't know about using worms - the urea might frazzle them, but, I do know about composting bird poo. We used to have cockatiels (now gone and very much missed :-) ) I used to compost their doings - I just placed everything in a black plastic bin bag along with some other compostible stuff - small parrots don't create much poo so it was necessary to add extras. Within about 4 - 6 months we had wonderful compost. The plastic creates heat and it all rots down wonderfully. I used to add a bit when I was planting seedlings and it worked really well.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Chicken shit has the quality at least of not smelling as bad as it could.

    I never composted it, so I have no advice for you, but I'd wager the Internet's just full of helpful tips! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Chicken shit has the quality at least of not smelling as bad as it could.

    I never composted it, so I have no advice for you, but I'd wager the Internet's just full of helpful tips! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hehehe all I found was a human health sight that said nitrates were sort of cancelled out by extra vitamin C.
    Maybe you could try composting in fruit juice?
    LOL!
    Or maybe not......

    I know you shouldnt touch cat poo when pregnant; never had to ask a midwife about chicken poop!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hehehe all I found was a human health sight that said nitrates were sort of cancelled out by extra vitamin C.
    Maybe you could try composting in fruit juice?
    LOL!
    Or maybe not......

    I know you shouldnt touch cat poo when pregnant; never had to ask a midwife about chicken poop!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Cheryl has a point about pregnancy/chicken poo. I think of chicken droppings as being a lot "cleaner" than duck or turkey droppings, because they are drier. But they can turn dusty and I bet it would be possible to inhale some dust. Best to wear a dust mask, I think.

    Hope you are feeding the baby plenty of nice cake. xxoo

    ReplyDelete
  14. Cheryl has a point about pregnancy/chicken poo. I think of chicken droppings as being a lot "cleaner" than duck or turkey droppings, because they are drier. But they can turn dusty and I bet it would be possible to inhale some dust. Best to wear a dust mask, I think.

    Hope you are feeding the baby plenty of nice cake. xxoo

    ReplyDelete
  15. One book I have (21st Century Smallholder) suggests that chickens are great for preparing the ground prior to planting. If you move their run to the area your will be planting they eat the weeds, seeds and pests and fertilise the soil. I guess the key here is that they don't get the chance to put loads of droppings on the soil, as you will be moving them on to another bit of ground later on.

    The book talks about having a 'mobile chicken ark' - not sure what that looks like though. Probably a box with wheels.

    ReplyDelete
  16. One book I have (21st Century Smallholder) suggests that chickens are great for preparing the ground prior to planting. If you move their run to the area your will be planting they eat the weeds, seeds and pests and fertilise the soil. I guess the key here is that they don't get the chance to put loads of droppings on the soil, as you will be moving them on to another bit of ground later on.

    The book talks about having a 'mobile chicken ark' - not sure what that looks like though. Probably a box with wheels.

    ReplyDelete
  17. We put all our chicken poo (together with the straw and newspaper we use to line their arks) on the compost heap along with the sort of stuff Jamie mentions. We have 3 heaps, each about a metre and a half square, and just fill till full, by which time the oldest is ready to dig out and refill.

    We've never had any problems at all - and we even use our home-made compost to pot up seedlings and sow seeds.

    I do sprinkle a 20kg bag of lime on the orchard when we move our hens from there onto the lawn at this time of year (to rest the orchard ground and to nourish and weed 'n' feed the lawn) - otherwise the ground becomes stale and acidic.

    ReplyDelete
  18. We put all our chicken poo (together with the straw and newspaper we use to line their arks) on the compost heap along with the sort of stuff Jamie mentions. We have 3 heaps, each about a metre and a half square, and just fill till full, by which time the oldest is ready to dig out and refill.

    We've never had any problems at all - and we even use our home-made compost to pot up seedlings and sow seeds.

    I do sprinkle a 20kg bag of lime on the orchard when we move our hens from there onto the lawn at this time of year (to rest the orchard ground and to nourish and weed 'n' feed the lawn) - otherwise the ground becomes stale and acidic.

    ReplyDelete