Why use chicken manure over any other?
Chicken manure fertilizer is very high in nitrogen and also contains a good amount of potassium and phosphorus. The high nitrogen and balanced nutrients is the reason that chicken manure compost is the best kind of manure to use for your plants (more than horse, cow or steer manure). It can be one of the greatest assets for a home gardener!
As great as it is for gardens, there are some things you need to know about it in order to use it correctly.
The high nitrogen in the chicken manure is dangerous to plants if the manure has not been properly composted. Raw chicken manure fertilizer can burn and even kill plants if used.
The good news is composting chicken manure is a simple process. If you compost it right, it will give the manure time to break down some of its more powerful nutrients so they are more suitable for your garden.
The first rule of thumb… you want to prevent the spread of pathogens and weed seeds, so the manure must be composted for at least 60 days before it can be applied in a vegetable garden.
How to Compost Chicken Manures
- First, build or buy two compost bins. They need to be 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet to process 1 cubic yard of manure. Put them in a sunny location.
- We use the bedding directly from our chickens. But if you don’t have chickens, get it from someone who keeps them. Many people who have chickens don't use the manure or have more than they need.
- Put a layer of sawdust or straw in the first compost bin. Keep in mind that there may already be sawdust or straw in the bedding, so use the opposite of what is already present.
- Add chicken manure, leaves, grass clippings and newspaper. Use a shovel to mix the materials thoroughly.
- Turn the manure pile every week to get air into the pile. This will break down the manure and other organic material evenly, allowing it all to "cook" enough to kill unwanted pathogens and weed seeds.
- Take the decomposing matter from the first compost bin and transfer it to the second after one month.
- Add fresh material to the first compost bin and continue turning the piles every three to five days.
- Let it cure. Monitor the pile and once you are satisfied that the entire contents of your bins have 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.
- Transfer finished compost from the second bin into a 30-gallon trash can for storage or for use directly in your garden as a soil amendment.
- Transfer compost from the first bin into the second bin and start a fresh pile in the first bin. This cycle will produce a constant supply of composted chicken manure for your garden.