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How to Compost Poultry Manure

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How to Compost Poultry Manure

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Overview

Poultry manure is an excellent fertilizer containing some of the most needed elements in soil-- nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Poultry manure is normally not added "raw" to a garden but composted along with other material. Even a small amount added to a compost pile will prove beneficial. Composting poultry manure is easy, economical and environmentally sound. Compost adds significant organic matter to the soil which improves soil structure, the ability to hold water through dry spells, and drainage. It also becomes the host to the many microorganisms and worms which lead to a health soil.

Step 1

Set aside an area for the compost pile. This can be as easy as a simple concrete building block structure a few feet in width, depth, and height, or several wooden pallets nailed together to form a bin. An open bin allows better air flow but dries out faster.

Step 2

Gather together the compost ingredients, making sure there are more greens than brown on about a 1 to 2 ratio. Don't worry about preciseness because the balance can be adjusted later as the compost heats up.

Step 3

Add the materials into the compost bin, mixing them together. If the browns and greens are somewhat dry, add the necessary water to bring the dampness up to a wet sponge level.

Step 4

Monitor the progress in a few days. If the pile is not heating up in the middle, check the dampness and adjust. If the dampness feels correct then add some more greens to the pile. Recheck in a few more days. Continue to check and adjust until the pile is heating properly.

Step 5

Remix the pile after a few days of heating the center so that the edges are now in the center. Do this several times over a 30- to 60-day period or until it will not reheat. At this time the pile size should be about 1/2 to 1/3 of the original pile and the material should be brown, crumbly, and sweet smelling. There should be minimal recognizable pieces of original material.

Step 6

Let the mixture stand for 40 to 60 more days after the pile has completely cooled to let the compost mature. If you put it on the garden too soon, it may continue to use the available nitrogen in the soil which leaves the growing plants without sufficient quantities. Work it into your existing soil, or spread on top as a mulch.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not add raw poultry manure to growing gardens. Always wear gloves when working with animal manure.

Things You'll Need

  • Brown organic material (leaves, straw, cardboard, newspapers or other sources of carbon)
  • Green organic material (poultry manure, cut grass, vegetable wastes, spent coffee grounds or other sources of nitrogen)
  • Several shoves of garden soil
  • Water

References

  • SoPo Chickens: How to Compost Chicken Droppings
  • Seatte Tilth: Composting Chicken Manure
  • Univ. of Illinois: Composting Livestock or Poultry Manure

Who Can Help

  • Keeping Chickens: Chicken Manure Compost Bin
Keywords: compost chicken manure, poultry manure compost, compost manure

About this Author

Jack Burton started writing professionally in 1980. He has written for "Word from Jerusalem," "ICEJ Daily News" and Tagalong Garden News. Burton managed radio stations, TV studios and newspapers, and was the chief fundraiser for Taltree Arboretum. He has a Bachelor of Science in broadcasting from John Brown University, and retired from the Navy Reserve in 1999.

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