hen manure fertilizer
image credits: Shannon McGee/Flickr

If you maintain a backyard flock of chickens, you will have an ample supply of a wonderful fertilizer. Each of your chickens will produce two cubic feet of manure every year. Multiply this by the number in your flock, and you will see that you have quite a source of manure!

Plans need to be made for how you will dispose of this, particularly in small spaces such as back yards and suburbs. Chicken manure needs to be composted for use as it is a “hot” manure due to the nitrogen content and should not be placed directly by plants (particularly young plants) or it will burn them as it composts.

Composting chicken litter

How to compost it? You will want to thoroughly compost manure to kill Salmonella or E.Coli bacteria. Composting will also get rid of the ammonia that not only smells awful, but is harmful for plants. When composting process is complete, there is no odor, but it will replace nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium back into the ground.

  • Clean your coop. All the waste, shavings, straw and whatever can be put into a container for composting. Most composters are one cubic yard.
  • Stir the compost. You will need to regularly completely rotate the maturing compost, whether you stir it or use a container that can be turned. The movement will let in air so the good bacteria can keep functioning. The temperature required to kill the bad bacteria in the manure is 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. You may want to check the temperature periodically to assess if it is reaching this range.
  • When it is done composting you can add it to your garden! Composting times vary according to the environment it is in, so a year is a good estimate that most gardeners use. You will want to work the compost into the soil, whatever method you choose.
  • Enjoy your happy, healthy and productive plants!

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