A good soil amendment, chicken manure adds organic matter and increases
the water holding capacity and beneficial biota in soil.
• A good fertilizer; chicken manure provides Nitrogen, Phosphorus
and Potassium to you plants (more than horse, cow or steer manure).
Collect manure and bedding. Chicken owners normally use bedding such
as shavings, sawdust, dry leaves, or straw to provide a dry cushion
for chickens and to control odor and pests. The coop bedding can be
collected with the manure and dumped into a composting bin. If using
a “droppings board”, simply scrape the fresh manure into
a bucket (with a tight-sealing lid; kitty-litter buckets are good
for this!) each morning, and add to the compost bin when full.
Carbon to Nitrogen balance. A combination of 30 parts Carbon to 1
part Nitrogen creates the ideal environment for microbes to break
down organic material to produce compost. When combining coop bedding
and chicken manure how do you achieve the ideal C:N ratio? Since the
different beddings have their own C:N ratio, the proportion of bedding
to manure will vary depending on the type of bedding used. To keep
things simple most composters follow the general rule of 1 part brown
to 2 parts green. However, because chicken manure is so high in Nitrogen
you may be more successful using a 1:1 or even a 2:1 mixture. Of course
you can also add kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leaves, etc.
Use a “hot compost” recipe. By combining the correct ratio
of bedding and manure at one time to form a pile, approximately one
cubic yard, then adding moisture (material should be about as wet
as a well wrung sponge), you will produce a hot pile. If you want
to be very efficient, check the temps: it is recommend that the compost
pile heat to 130-150° F and maintain that temperature for 3 days.
Heating is necessary to destroy pathogens but temperatures above 160°
F can kill beneficial microorganisms and slow the process. To help
you achieve appropriate temperature you can purchase a compost temperature
gauge from a local nursery.
Repeat the heating process. Once the center of your compost pile has
reached the required temperature for three days it will start to cool.
After it cools, pull the center apart and move the core material to
the edges and bring the edge material into the center to heat. For
1 cubic yard of material repeat the process of bringing edges into
the core at least 3 times.
Let it cure. Monitor the pile and once you are satisfied that the
entire contents of your bin has been heated, loosely cover and let
cure for 45-60 days before using. It’s ready when most material
is dark, crumbly and sweet-smelling like soil.
Add to garden. You can add the resulting compost to your vegetable
garden or flower bed by spreading it on the surface or by gently working
it into existing soil.
Compost Bin. Your bin should be at least 1 cubic yard in size (3x3x3
feet). If possible, use a 2-bin compost system. One bin will be in
the hot compost phase and the other will be in the curing phase. You
may also need a storage site for the carbon materials you collect.
South Portland Public Works offers low-cost prefabricated compost
Apply only aged or composted manure to your soil.
• Always wear gloves when handling livestock manure.
• Thoroughly wash raw vegetables before eating.
• Do not use cat or dog manure in compost piles.
• People who are susceptible to food borne illnesses should
avoid eating uncooked vegetables from manured gardens. Those who face
risks from food borne illness include pregnant women, very young children,
and persons with cancer, kidney failure, liver disease, diabetes or