For those who breed their own chicken at home and grow their own vegetables in their garden, finding the best fertilizer can sometimes take time. However, we must remember that chicken do not only give us fresh eggs on a daily basis, but their waste can be composted into manure, which is a great fertilizer that comes with many benefits. Besides, if we already compost our organic residues, the process for composting chicken manure won’t be so difficult.
When waste starts to pile up, it becomes quite smelly, it attracts flies and rodents, and breathing the ammonia is not healthy for our chicken. Instead of letting it all go to waste, we should take advantage of this residue and use it as manure. However, we must keep in mind that raw chicken manure is too strong to use on our flowers and vegetables, so we should compost it before using it as fertilizer in our home garden.
When composted, chicken manure turns in to a great soil amendment, as it adds organic matter, increasing the capacity of water holding and benefiting the plants and vegetables we grow. Besides, chicken manure is a rich source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, better and stronger than horse or cow manure.
Composting chicken manure is basically the same as composting our kitchen waste, and there are several recommendations we should keep in mind when we start composting our chicken manure. The very first step is to collect the manure and think about the bedding. Sawdust, dry leaves, or straw are great options for bedding our manure, as they will help us keep odors and pests under control. Creating the perfect balance between carbon and nitrogen will be an essential part of the process, helping us break the organic material and creating compost.
The best way to ensure carbon to nitrogen balance is by following a general rule that most composters follow, which states 1 part of brown material relates to 2 parts of green material. In the case of chicken manure, however, we might want to consider a mix of 1:1 or even 2:1. Also, we should consider using a hot pile of compost to get the best possible results. The ideal temperature should be of approximately 130-150 F, keeping this temperature for a period of 3 days. In order to make the pile heat, we need to combine the proper ratio of carbon to nitrogen, and then add moisture.
As we mentioned above, raw chicken manure is too strong to be applied directly to our garden, and it may contain organisms harmful to our vegetables. Therefore, we should always wear gloves when we manipulate manure, both before and after the composting process. Another important tip to keep in mind is to wash our raw vegetables thoroughly before we eat them. Also, cat, dog, or pig manure should not be used for composting fertilizer.