It is possible that if you own chicken and other poultry, you might be earning well by selling eggs and other products. However, what if we tell you that your chicken can add to your income further?
Any average sized chicken can produce up to one cubic foot of manure every day. If you compost this chicken manure and add it to the soil, you can enhance the soil health and grow crops commercially. Therefore, we will teach you how to compost chicken manure and use it to develop your vegetable garden.
Why Compost Chicken Manure?
Unlike other animal’s manure and excreta, chicken manure is too strong and cannot be used in its raw form to grow vegetables and fruits. Chicken manure is known to damage the roots of the plant permanently. However, the compost prepared from chicken manure with hot composting techniques can enrich the soil with essential nutrients.
The benefits of using chicken manure compost are:
- Chicken manure compost helps in reducing the percolation in the soil and helps it in retaining more water.
- The compost made out of chicken manure has a higher quantity of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as compared to the manure of cows and horses. These nutrients fertilize the soil naturally.
Preparing the Compost Bin
The bin method of composting is preferable for making compost out of chicken manure. For this process, you need at least three compost bins. In the first bin, you can add the manure, and turn it daily. In the second bin, you can store the bedding material, such as the shavings and straw. In the third compost bin, you can keep the mixture when you reach the curing phase of composting.
Some people may require additional compost bins for storage purposes. However, we recommend the usage of at least three compost bins because they make the procedure manageable.
The compost bins should be one cubic yard in size. However, if you have a lot of chicken manure available, you can use larger bins as well.
How to Compost Chicken Manure?
1. Collecting the Manure
Some owners like to pick the manure every day while others keep adding beddings over the chicken droppings and collect the entire bulk after an interval of 2 to 3 days. Beddings are generally made of shavings, straw, sawdust, dry leaves, etc. While it is possible to collect manure without them, beddings help in giving a cushion to the chicken and make the excreta resistant to pest attack.
The beddings are also helpful in controlling the odor. There is no harm in collecting the beddings along with the manure and dumping all of it in the compost bin, provided that you use organic material for preparing the beddings.
2. Maintaining the Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio
The carbon to nitrogen balance is crucial in composting chicken manure. Ideally, thirty parts of carbon and one part of nitrogen are sufficient for preparing fertile compost. The beddings made of straw or shavings mingled with some feathers and chicken manure, roughly account for the same ratio.
Sometimes it is difficult to maintain the ratio. It is because different bedding materials have different carbon and nitrogen compositions. However, experts suggest that a combination of two parts of manure and one part of greens helps maintain the ratio.
Note- Chicken manure is inherently rich in nitrogen. Therefore, add it cautiously as it can alter the ratio drastically.
3. Make a Hot Pile
Hot composting is the safest method of composting chicken manure. For hot composting, you need to prepare a hot pile first. To do this, compile the beddings and manure for an ideal carbon and nitrogen ratio and form a pile. Add sufficient moisture to the mixture and turn it once. Now, use a compost thermometer and check the temperature of this pile. If the temperature lies between 130 to 150° F continuously for three days, your hot pile is ready.
The heating of the organic matter is necessary to kill the parasites and weeds. You can turn the mixture several times to achieve the ideal temperature. However, temperatures above 160 degrees can start denaturing the essential proteins. So, monitor the temperature closely.
4. Repeating the Process
If you were successful in maintaining a temperature of 130 degrees for three days continuously, you need to move the core of the pile out and transfer the manure on the periphery to the center.
Until now, the heat was concentrated only at the center. Once the core gets heated sufficiently, it is time to activate the bacteria and fungi in the manure present on the periphery. For every one yard of the mixture, you need to repeat this process of moving the manure on the edges towards the center, at least three times.
5. Cure the Mixture
Monitoring the temperature is very crucial in the hot composting method. If you are satisfied that all the components of the manure are heated evenly, you can leave the mixture aside and let it cure or rest for at least 45 to 60 days. The indication for starting the resting phase is when the mixture starts settling and stabilizes to form a compact mass. Cover the mixture with an additional layer of plastic sheet to prevent the invasion of weeds.
- There are chances that the chicken manure might contain disease-causing microorganisms. Therefore, you should always collect and turn the chicken manure after wearing gloves and protective gear.
- It is not advisable to add cow, pig, or horse manure to the chicken manure during composting. It is because chicken manure is already rich in a lot of nutrients, and it can lead to nutrient toxicity in the final compost.
- Since chicken manure is susceptible to attack from harmful pests and microorganisms, we advise that you always wash the raw fruits and vegetables grown in the compost-rich soil. Also, those of you who are vulnerable to foodborne disease should avoid eating raw vegetables grown in this soil.
So in this article, we told you how to compost chicken manure. You must follow the manure safety tips given in the article as well. This process can take up to 60 days for completion. However, we guarantee that the compost you will get after 60 days will benefit your soil, and you will never need to buy additional organic fertilizers.