How to Compost Chicken Manure?
Most farmers know that chicken manure is among the best natural fertilizers in their gardens. Some, however, don’t know that fresh chicken manure can be disastrous to their gardens because it may contain pathogens and bacteria, such as Salmonella.
Moreover, fresh chicken manure is high in ammonia, and its odor makes it unpleasant for humans. Composted chicken manure, however, is excellent for the soil because it adds rich organic matter. Composted chicken manure also doesn’t have an unpleasant odor.
Importance of Composting Chicken Manure Before Use
Adding fresh chicken manure to your garden soil can spread bacteria and pathogenic organisms. Low-growing leafy plants like spinach and broccoli can pick up pathogenic organisms in fresh manure. Composting chicken manure helps destroy these disease-causing organisms, making the composted chicken manure safe for your plants.
Fresh chicken manure has a high ammonia concentration, making it capable of burning plants’ roots and leaves. Composting your fresh chicken manure will help neutralize the acidity in the fresh manure, making it safe for the soil. Unlike fresh chicken manure, composted manure doesn’t have a foul odor.
Composting chicken manure will help eliminate the unpleasant odor you smell around fresh chicken manure. Composted chicken manure is a terrific soil amendment by adding organic matter to the soil.
It also increases the soil’s water-holding capacity and adds valuable biota to the soil. Composted chicken manure is rich in nutrients, including phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen, which benefit the soil.
Steps to Composting Chicken Manure
While you might understand all the benefits of using composted chicken manure in your garden, you could be clueless about how to compost chicken manure. Below are simple steps to help you compost chicken manure for your garden.
– Collect the Manure
The first step to composting chicken manure is collecting the manure from the chicken pen. You can utilize a rake to remove the manure from the cage, mainly if you handle bulky and wet chicken manure.
You can also collect chicken manure together with the coop bedding. Bedding from sawdust, wood shavings, hay, or straw can help improve the quality of the chicken manure because it decomposes quickly.
Some chicken owners collect the soiled bedding and manure from the cage daily. Others prefer adding new bedding over chicken droppings and collecting the chicken manure on a low frequency. Regardless of how you collect the chicken manure, it’s imperative to collect enough before you start the composting process.
– Make the Composting Pile
Create a compost pile after collecting fresh chicken manure from your coop. Creating a composting pile is easy because you need to make a heap or pile of fresh chicken manure you just collected from the cage.
Select a suitable place in your garden and clear the space to expose bare soil. Create a base layer of the old coop bedding and chicken litter. Add a layer of fresh chicken manure on top of the old bedding.
You can add a nitrogen source to the compost pile to speed up the composting process. Some farmers add some little nitrogen fertilizer to kickstart the process. Make the compost pile moist by adding some water. Although moisture is necessary for composting chicken manure, you shouldn’t make your compost pile too wet.
– Monitor the Pile
Composting chicken manure is a long process you can’t complete overnight. It takes a lot of time to compost chicken manure, so you must monitor the compost pile to check the progress and ensure you get appropriately composted chicken manure.
For instance, you need to monitor your compost pile for temperature. The compost pile temperature should be around 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Such a high temperature is suitable for a compost pile because it helps destroy bacteria and pathogens in the composting chicken manure.
However, the temperature shouldn’t exceed 160 degrees Fahrenheit because too much heat can kill the vital microorganisms in the manure. Overheating the compost pile can also slow the composting process.
Buy a compost pile temperature gauge to help you get the appropriate temperature for your compost pile. Keep making the compost pile moist to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the compost pile. Monitor the pile for at least a month to ensure the process goes well.
– Turning the Pile
Turn the pile after a few days to see whether the chicken manure is composting as planned. Turning also helps the chicken manure to compost quickly and ensure the ingredients in the chicken manure blend perfectly to make some quality manure for your garden. You will notice color changes in the composting manure as you turn the compost pile daily.
You will know when your chicken manure is ready for the garden when it starts turning dark. Properly composted chicken manure also produces a sweet smell, unlike fresh chicken manure, which smells awful.
You can use the composted chicken manure in your garden when planting your vegetables and other plants.
How Long Does it Take to Compost Chicken Manure?
Chicken litter isn’t as bulky as litter from other farm animals, such as cows. Thus, fresh chicken manure doesn’t take a long time to compost. It takes around five to six weeks to compost chicken manure. The larger the volume of chicken manure you are composting, the longer it will take for the manure to compost.
How to Speed Up Chicken Manure Composting?
A cold compost pile can take months to reach perfection. You don’t have to take months to make some excellent composted chicken manure for your garden. You can utilize some brilliant ideas to speed up chicken manure composting. Below are the easy things you can do to speed up chicken manure composting.
– Add Some Branches at the Base of the Compost Pile
Placing a layer of twigs or branches at the base of the compost pile can help add air to the compost pile. Branches will help aerobic composting to occur in the compost pile.
Furthermore, placing branches at the base of your compost pile will help drain excess water, which can make composting take much longer. Aerobic composting is fast, unlike anaerobic composting. Aerobic composting also reduces odor as fresh chicken manure is composting.
– Add Soil/ Old Compost
Fungus and bacteria do the most challenging work in the entire process of composting. Soil contains billions of bacteria and fungal threads. Adding some soil or old compost to your compost pile will help add plenty of fungus and bacteria to your compost heap, ultimately speeding up the composting process.
– Use the Hot Water Bottle Trick
This is another fantastic and simple way to speed up composting of fresh chicken manure. Place a bottle of steaming hot water on top of the compost pile and then press in deep into the pile.
The hot water in the bottle will heat the compost pile, encouraging composting to take shorter than usual. You can insert many hot water bottles into the compost pile if you have a huge compost pile. The hotter the compost pile, the faster the composting process occurs.
– Utilize a Compost Duvet
Hot water bottles will heat your compost pile. Compost duvets, on the other hand, will help the compost pile maintain warmth. Consistent warmth in the compost pile will provide the perfect temperature your compost pile needs to break down the organic materials in the fresh chicken manure.
You can purchase a compost duvet for your compost file to speed up the composting process. Or, you can make a DIY compost duvet from materials like bubble wrap and old carpets.
– Keep Turning the Compost Pile
This is another easy trick you can utilize to speed up composting of chicken manure. Turning your compost pile will encourage oxygen to enter the pile, which will help speed up the composting process. Turn your compost heap after every two days.
– Add Nitrogen-rich Ingredients to the Compost Pile
If your compost pile is slower than usual, it could be due to insufficient nitrogen in the pile. The microorganism in your compost pile needs enough nitrogen for composting to take place faster.
The composting process will be slow if there are high carbon levels in the compost pile. Therefore, add some nitrogen-rich ingredients to your compost pile.
Never Use Fresh Chicken Manure in Your Garden
Avoid using fresh chicken manure in your garden for growing plants. Fresh manure is potentially toxic to your garden soil because it has pathogens and bacteria. Moreover, fresh chicken manure is way too hot for the soil and can burn plants and beneficial microorganisms in the soil.
Benefits of Using Composted Chicken Manure in Garden
Composted chicken manure is rich in nutrients, including potassium, phosphorus, iron, and nitrogen. It also contains many soil-enriching microorganisms that boost plant growth.
Composted chicken manure is all-natural and doesn’t contain synthetic elements in commercial fertilizers. Composted chicken manure also has a pleasant smell, unlike raw chicken manure, which has an unpleasant odor.
Composted chicken manure is excellent for any garden soil, especially nutrient-deprived soil. This manure is easy to make and has multiple advantages over commercial fertilizer.
Using composted chicken manure will save you the high costs of commercial fertilizers. Consequently, it would be best to compost chicken manure in your yard instead of using commercial fertilizers.