Chicken manure as fertilizer.
Chicken manure can be looked at in two different ways. You can think of it as a burden or a blessing. I choose to think of it as a blessing because I recycle chicken manure.
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Recycle all of that chicken manure!
If you have chickens, like we do, then you’re well aware that they create a lot of poop. This means that several times a year you have to find something to do with that poop. Don’t think you need to throw it away!
One average-sized hen will make around 50 pounds of poop in a year. We currently have 18 hens on our place. So we should have around 900 pounds of manure per year. To say that’s a lot would be an understatement.
Meat chickens produce even more poop than egg-laying chickens. If you raise meat chickens, you’ll definitely want to recycle chicken manure.
Cleaning the coop out several times a year can be a chore. Especially when there is that much poop to cleanout. If you think that I scoop all of that poop and let it sit around or throw it away, you’re mistaken.
Chicken manure is golden garden fertilizer.
That’s right. Chicken poop, or if you’re looking for a more endearing term, chicken litter, is extremely high in nutrients that plants need.
If you have pigs, you may want to think twice before recycling pig manure. Proper pig manure management is a little different than recycling chicken manure.
Poultry manure contains all of the nutrients that plants need to grow, develop and produce bountiful yields. Chicken manure contains nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, manganese, copper, zinc, chlorine, boron, iron, and molybdenum.
What’s makes this even more awesome? If you already have chickens, you’re basically getting super-rich fertilizer… for free!
Science Daily published an article that shows chicken manure has more benefits over conventional fertilizers than most people thought.
One of the main nutrients that plants need is nitrogen.
Nitrogen is a major component of the chemical chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the chemical in plants that capture sunlight so that the plant can perform photosynthesis.
Nitrogen is also responsible for creating many of the structures in plants. To put it short, plants need nitrogen for proper growth, development, and reproduction.
Guess what is high in nitrogen?
Recycled chicken manure!
Chicken poop is extremely high in nitrogen. In fact, compared to other types of manure, chicken poop has one of the highest levels of nitrogen. A word of caution though, chicken poop is so high in fertilizer that when it is fresh, it can create “hot” soil.
Chicken poop needs to be composted before being added to garden soil. If not, the nitrogen may burn plants that are in the soil. Hence the term “hot” soil. Depending on the composting method, the nitrogen will be broken down enough to use in your garden in as little as a month.
Chicken manure is also very high in phosphorus.
Noble Research Institute says that poultry litter makes an excellent addition to nitrogen fertilizer as it is high in phosphorus.
Phosphorus impacts root development, flower formation, seed production, pest resistance, and overall crop yields. Phosphorus is extremely important in plants that are being used to yield food. Plants that don’t have enough phosphorus will become sick or stunted. Unfortunately, these plants may not give any outward signs that there is a problem until it is too late.
Luckily, if you have chicken poop, you won’t have to worry about having enough phosphorus in your soil. As I mentioned, chicken poop is quite high in phosphorus so you won’t run into any deficiencies.
Since phosphorus is vital in root development, it is a good idea to incorporate poop into the soil so that it can have better contact with the root system.
You can do this by tilling the manure into the soil.
Potassium is extremely important in healthy plant production.
It has been proven to help plants to grow faster and stronger. Increased potassium also helps plants fight off disease and pests as well as be more drought resistant.
Potassium is a component in many of the plant processes. This means that to reach their crop-producing potential, plants need adequate potassium.
To get the most out of your chicken manure, it is best to compost it.
You can easily do this by piling the manure up in a compost heap. It is important that the manure be covered with a tarp or kept in an enclosed container. This keeps the nitrogen from leaving the manure. It also prevents rain from creating polluted runoff from the manure pile.
Recycle Chicken Manure- Collecting It
I currently use a deep litter system in our chicken coop. A deep litter system basically means that instead of stripping your coop each time it gets nasty, you add bedding to it.
Deep litter systems begin the decomposing process. Rather than stripping the coop say, once a month, you strip it maybe once or twice per year.
If you want to read more about the deep litter method, Mother Earth News has a great article about how the deep litter method can save you time, money, and work.
Since I use a deep litter system, I bring a cart to the coop and shovel the partially decomposed chicken manure out. The manure has already started to break down, so I put it in my garden in the fall to prepare it for the spring.
I don’t do this necessarily if I am planting a fall garden, just in case I plant something that is tender. The fresh manure can burn some tender plants like lettuce that you might plant in the fall.
Using Recycled Chicken Manure
There are many ways that manure can be incorporated into the soil.
You can directly apply composted manure to your garden soil.
If you want to know how to recycle chicken manure, look no further. Hobby Farms has an article about recycling chicken manure the right way.
Some people opt to make a ‘tea’ with the manure. Making a tea with manure dilutes the nutrients in the manure so that it can be applied to the soil sooner without creating hot soil. You can make a tea with the manure by putting the manure into a porous bag and putting the bag into a container with water for about a month.
Hobby Farms also has an article about how to make chicken manure compost tea.
Final Thoughts About Why You Should Recycle Chicken Manure
No matter how you decide to add manure to your soil, the main thing is to make sure that you use it and don’t throw it out! That chicken manure can make your garden have a crazy good year.
I incorporate recycled chicken manure into my garden soil each year. I’ve been able to see increased garden yields each year because of how rich my soil is. You won’t regret scooping all of that poop and adding it to your garden soil!
Raising chickens is just one of the few things that I like to do on my farm. Are you thinking about raising livestock? Or are you already raising some farm animals?
What if I told you that I host an incredible virtual training that is totally free to watch? Yep, it’s my gift to you! You can learn how to raise livestock from 17+ experts during the Homestead Livestock Summit. Grab your FREE ticket here!
You might also be interested in these chicken-related posts:
Internal Parasites in Chickens
Raising Chickens on Pasture
Keeping Chickens Safe From Predators
Water Belly in Chickens
Guide to Chicken Feeds
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Hemp bedding can absorb up to 4x its weight while keeping your roost dry, saving you time. It is the most absorbent animal bedding that keeps your ladies comfortable, clean, and disease-free.
It’s also very expensive unfortunately.
I scrape the top part of the bedding to remove the poop. throw it in my bucket, then turn my shavings over and do it again. I have a small coop, only 4 chickens. I then add some more shavings to keep it soft and smelling decent. We have a “mobile” coop which is on my backyard. When we move the coop and run to another area of the yard I rake the area they were in and then roll a tiller over it, this promotes the grass to re-grow. All the poop I rake up goes in the bucket and then I spread this to bare spots on my lawn. It is working great! My lawn looks great, even the areas that have new growth! I also throw the poop and shavings under my orange tree and in various planters. I have 2 plastic containers that I use for water in the run. (We live in AZ and it is pretty darn hot!) I throw the dirty water into my planters every time I change it out for cold and clean.
Are there any drawbacks to adding chicken manure directly to garden beds without first composting it, besides the mentioned reason of burning tender plants?