Chicken manure is composed of concentrated nutrients. This means it is very strong (or "hot") and should not be used in raw form on vegetables or flowers, as the strength of the nutrients, especially the nitrogen, can burn the roots of the plants. When composted correctly, however, it becomes an excellent fertilizer or amendment for soil, earning it the nickname of "black gold". While it takes over half a year to properly compost chicken manure, the benefits are well worth the time and effort.
Nutrients and Bacteria
Chicken manure is naturally rich in the nutrients that plants need in order to establish strong root systems and produce foliage and fruit. In addition, chicken manure contains the bacteria used in the poultry's digestive process, which works to break down organic matter. The composting process and bacteria make the nutrients soluble, which means that the plants can more readily absorb them from the soil.
Chickens, being vegetarians, will produce pure manure that is free of the diseases and parasites found in the manure of some meat-eating animals. Chicken manure also contains less salt and is free of the weed seeds that can appear in the waste of other animals. Finally, because it is organic, you don't have to worry about any harsh chemicals entering the ground near your plants if you are an organic gardener.
Chicken manure is plentiful. There is no shortage of chickens, and they produce manure on a surprisingly frequent basis. Many poultry houses have more than enough manure to go around, even if they make a habit of donating or selling it. For this reason, it is also inexpensive.
Chicken manure can be stored for a long period of time before it starts to lose its nutrients. After the months-long (six to nine month) process of composting, the manure must rest in a cool, dry place for a minimum of two months in order to cure. After that, it can sit indefinitely before being used. As an added bonus, the composting process removes the unpleasant odor from the manure.