How to Compost Chicken Waste


The poultry industry is the largest animal agricultural industry in states such as Louisiana, according to Louisiana State University. Although the poultry industry produces millions of pounds of broiler meat a year, it also produces a lot of chicken waste. Misuse of animal wastes can lead to environmental hazards such as water pollution. One environmentally friendly solution to eliminate chicken waste is to turn it into nutrient-rich soil through the process of composting.

Step 1

Make your compost pile on a location in which the compost pile can easily drain, such as the ground behind a chicken house. Do not build the pile on a cement floor, such as the kind found in a chicken house. Cement floors will not allow the rotting compost to drain.

Step 2

Layer chicken litter and sawdust into alternating layers in a compost pile. The pile should be no less than 3 cubic feet to effectively heat and kill bacteria in the litter and no more than 5 cubic feet to make the pile easy to manage. Each layer of sawdust should be twice as thick as the litter layer. Wet each layer with a garden hose so that the entire compost pile is as wet as a wrung-out sponge.

Step 3

Check the center of the compost pile daily with the probe of a cooking thermometer to determine that the compost pile is heating adequately. A compost pile must heat to at least 120 F to kill all bacteria in the chicken litter and make the compost safe to use.

Step 4

If the compost drops below 120 F, turn the pile inside out with a shovel. Turning the pile will aerate the pile and cause it to heat again.

Step 5

Allow the temperature in the pile to drop below 100 F when the pile has completely turned into compost. The compost should sit for several more weeks to cure. During this time, the microbes that caused the chicken litter to decompose will go dormant or die. Once the microbes are no longer active, the compost will not harm the roots of any plants it is used on.

Things You'll Need

  • Chicken litter
  • Sawdust
  • Garden hose
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Shovel


  • Mississippi State University: Compost May Be Answer to Wood, Poultry Waste
  • Louisiana State University Ag Center: Making Poultry Litter Safe for Re-Use
  • Cooperative Extension System: Making and Using Compost for Organic Farming

Who Can Help

  • University of Minnesota Extension: Composting and Mulching
Keywords: making compost, recycling chicken litter, using biosolids

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."