Can I use chicken manure in my garden?
Gardeners and farmers alike have been using chicken manure in gardens and fields for years. Chicken manure contains high levels of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, as well as a host of micronutrients that are critical to plant life.
In this article, we’ll cover how to use chicken manure in your garden as well as how to compost chicken manure so it can be used for gardening.
Can you really use chicken poop as fertilizer?
The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, chicken manure is one of the most potent, natural fertilizers on the planet. Chicken manure, with nothing added to it, can even be used as an organic fertilizer (yeven fertilizer from commercial chicken barns can be used).
With this being said, taking raw chicken manure straight from your chicken coop can be damaging for your plants, depending on how “wet” the manure is. One of the ways to avoid this is to simply dry out the manure in the sun for a few days prior to applying it on your garden.
When large scale commercial operations turn chicken manure into pellets, they dry down the manure first – just to the point where it still sticks together on it’s own. This is not considered composting the manure as there is no time for it to begin to break down.
What are the benefits of chicken manure on a garden?
Chicken manure, in both it’s raw, composted, and pelleted form is a great source of nutrients for your garden. Chicken manure carries more nutrients than cow manure, horse manure, or manure from swine. On top of that, if you own chickens, you’ve got an unlimited supply!
The main benefits of chicken manure
- It’s natural – chicken manure is a natural fertilizer you can feel good about. In fact, chicken manure is actually approved for use on organic farms.
- High in NP & K – pelleted chicken manure has a typically analysis of 5 – 4 – 2. That’s 5% of 2,000 lbs being Nitrogen, 4% Phosphorus and 2% Potassium. On top of that, 2,000 lbs of chicken pellets will have roughly 7% Calcium.
- Balanced nutrients – with it’s core 3 nutrients of NP & K, chicken manure offers not only major components needed to sustain healthy plant growth, it also puts valuable micronutrients into the soil ultimately increasing organic matter.
How to compost chicken manure for garden use
Prior to use, it’s important to make sure that you compost your chicken manure. If not, it’s high nitrogen content can actually burn the plants in your garden. So how do you compost chicken manure?
If you can afford to, a great way to compost chicken manure is to pile it up over the summer, spreading it on your garden in the fall after your harvest. If possible, till the chicken manure in so it has a chance to work with the soil prior to spring planting.
How to compost chicken poop step by step
For gardeners looking for a more exact recipe, here’s a step by step process for hot composting manure.
- Collect chicken manure (and bedding). Anything from inside the coop can be composted.
- Identify the brown to green (carbon to nitrogen) ratio. 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen creates the ideal composting environment, however some farmers will use a 1: or even 2:1 ratio. Brown = bedding, etc. Green = chicken manure.
- Pile the manure, let it sit. Let the middle of the pile heat to 130-150 degrees for several days (you can measure it with a gauge, or just leave it 3 days) to “hot compost” the manure.
- Repeat the hot compost process. It’s recommended that farmers pull the core to the edges and bring the edges of the pile in to the core at least 3 times to compost the entire pile.
- Let the manure sit for 45-60 days. To complete the process, let the manure sit, loosely covered, for 45-60 days before adding it to your garden.
Using a compost bin for chicken manure
Some gardeners prefer to use a two bin compost system for composting their manure. If you choose to do this, build your compost system big enough so that each bin can handle roughly 45-60 days worth of manure.
A two bin compost system allows you to compost and cure manure faster and more efficiently, giving you a cleaner chicken coop and a healthier garden.
Whether you simply pile your chicken manure as you go along, or if you actually compost it according to our step by step plan, adding this product to your garden can go an incredible long way.