How to Compost With Chicken Manure

Overview

Chicken manure is high in nitrogen and nutritious for plants. However, it is too high in nitrogen to be applied directly to the soil and may contain pathogens that can be transferred to food crops. The safest way to get chicken manure's nutrients to your plants is to compost the manure first. Not only is humus made with chicken manure nutritious, it holds moisture well.

Step 1

Collect the manure and bedding from the chicken coop and add it to the compost bin or pile.

Step 2

Add an equal amount by volume of "brown," carbon-rich compost material, such as dried leaves or straw, to the compost pile. This will keep the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio in your pile ideal for composting.

Step 3

Add a handful or two of garden soil to the pile to introduce a fresh supply of the microorganisms responsible for decomposing the material in your compost pile.

Step 4

Turn the pile with a shovel to thoroughly mix its ingredients.

Step 5

Measure the internal temperature of the compost pile with a compost thermometer. The ideal core temperature for composting and killing pathogens is between 130 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Insert the thermometer into the center of the pile once daily. Once the compost pile reaches the ideal temperature (usually in 24 to 48 hours), and maintains it for three days, turn the pile with the shovel.

Step 6

Repeat steps 1 through 5 until the pile reaches between 3 and 5 cubic feet. Continue to turn it, following the method in step 5, until it turns into dark, friable humus.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear gloves whenever you are handling chicken manure.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden soil
  • Brown compost material
  • Shovel
  • Compost thermometer
  • Compost bin

References

  • Seattle Tilth: Composting Chicken Manure
  • Washington State University: Composting Livestock Manure
  • Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: Manure Composting as a Pathogen Reduction Strategy

Who Can Help

  • The New York City Compost Project: Green and Brown Compost Material
Keywords: chicken manure, manure compost, compost chicken manure

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.