How to Compost With Chickens

Overview

Chickens are easy to care for and provide eggs and rich manure that you can add to your compost pile. An additional benefit of keeping chickens is that you can dispose of all kitchen scraps in their coop---what they don't eat, such as citrus rinds, decomposes and turns into rich nutrients for your garden. Chickens love to scratch and peck through pulled weeds, straw, grass clippings and any other organic materials you give them. The manure makes the coop materials a perfect addition to your compost pile.

Step 1

Dump all kitchen scraps except bones into your chicken run every day. Also add yard waste such as pulled weeds, grass clippings, raked leaves, fallen fruit, straw and any other organic materials you have on hand. You can even include old flower bouquets, leis, boutonnières and anything that comes from nature.

Step 2

Rake the outdoor chicken run once each month and transfer the gleanings to a compost pile. This is necessary before you use these materials in the garden because chicken manure is mixed in with decomposing organic materials and it can burn plants if it is not first well-composted.

Step 3

Rake or shovel chicken manure that accumulates in your indoor chicken house and make compost tea from it. Fill a 5-gallon bucket about ¼ full with manure and then fill it with water. Allow it to soak for up to 24 hours. Strain off the water and water your plants with it.

Step 4

Set your chickens free, if possible, from time to time to help weed your property and create in-place compost. Spread straw and other organic materials such as those you normally add to their coop over an area you want weeded. The chickens will turn the materials for you, add manure and eat the weeds. Soon, you can turn the area into a new garden bed.

Tips and Warnings

  • Check with local ordinances before you add chickens to a suburban yard.

Things You'll Need

  • Kitchen scraps
  • Yard waste
  • Chicken manure
  • Rake
  • Wheelbarrow
  • 5-gallon bucket

References

  • The Modern Homestead: The Lazy Gardener's Compost Heap
  • North Carolina State University: Composting Poultry Mortality
Keywords: chickens composting, manure fertilizer, organic gardening

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.