So, what ya gonna do with all that chicken poop?
If you have chickens, you have free Fertilizer. I guess the question is, how to manage all that stuff. Here’s what I do. COMPOST IT!
I know I’ve written about poop before, but I wanted to actually show you here what I do with it and how. I’ll have photos along the way, but this is a long story. I’ll warn you of that now.
My Dad, (Of course you know there’s a story here) had some incredible ways to utilize what the earth gave. I likely did not appreciate his oddities as much as I should have. Age teaches you that stuff later.
Daddy had the best tomatoes ever. They were delicious! I had no idea what sort of work went into the creation of those red delicacies. Sure he had a garden and spent a good bit of time in it, but still, I didn’t learn his magic. I’m still not sure I have it down, even to this day. His plants were at least 4 feet tall, with strong stalks; and the tomatoes, depending on the seed type, were golly whopper size. Just one regular ‘Big Boy’ tomato was enough to serve a family of four; for hamburgers and cut up for a small side salad. I grew up thinking, all tomatoes were this size. They were easily, a pound each. Sweet, does not even begin to tell you how good they were.
Dad was never exactly the pristine clean man, unless he was getting ready for work. I still remember his ‘Wild Country’ aftershave. Thinking about that now, it suited his personality. When he worked in the garden he was a total grub, with tan back and fanny crack. The garden usually had a enough space to hide stuff and Dad would lug about a 5 gallon bucket with a ladle (OK, a cut off jug). I remember it smelled fairly bad but the tomatoes loved it!
Then there was this large 55 gallon drum with a lid (Thank God). When that lid came off the air was temporarily filled with a real stink. Either it burned your smelly glans (olfactory glans) so you didn’t smell it any more, or the stench was only temporary and dissipated. It’s a toss-up, as to which was happening. Either way, Peeeeee U!
When he would go to fill his five gallon bucket with more of that mixture in the drum, even the squirrels in the trees fled.
What was in that bucket, I only partly remember. I do remember the trip to the chicken farm though. His old (I mean OLD) Dodge PU truck was squat-hunkered down in the back like one of my chickens getting mounted. Here an there in the heavy load of chicken Poop, were white feathers. He’d evidently visited a poultry farm, who seemed to be all to happy to load his truck. It did stink… He dumped it then he covered it with a large tarp and weighted it down. One large bucket of the chicken poop went into The Drum. It hit the liquid inside with a SPLOOOOSH~! He put the drum lid back on.
By the time that chicken poop in the drum had sat in there for a few days and a few more days, along with vegetable scraps, shrimp heads, fish heads, and whatever organic tidbits he could toss in, it was a brown goop. Thank god for the lid.
Dad also had a huge compost heap. Bags and Bags of people’s yard leaves were collected off the side of the road. Mom would see him coming with the truck load, and not know whether to laugh or cry. It made such a mess in the back, but at least Dad was quiet and happy doing his thing.
The goop in the 55 gallon drum, and fresh chicken poop, were also ladled onto the piles of leaves; as he built the compost heap. Another tarp went on that.
Dad’s garden patch was not that big either. Thinking back now, I remember it was fairly modest; perhaps 30×50 feet. The tomatoes which came out of that plot of land yielded enough tomatoes and other stuff to keep us in food all the time. Mother got so tired of canning tomatoes… It’s a lot of work. The neighbors got tired of tomatoes too.
The chicken poop collected for the fertilizing was the miracle. Chicken poop has a large amount of natural ammonia. Its corrosive, digesting ability is powerful. So, when used, it breaks down the organic matter it is mixed with, very fast. The leaves and debris in the compost heap releases nitrogen, that in turn enriches the pile into magic Black Gold.
Ammonia is not good for plants; which is why you never use fresh chicken poop on plants. It would fry the poor little things in a day. This is why you use it to add into something else and not place directly on a plant.
In this photo you see a mixture of office shreds, chicken poop, and old compost, leaves and the kitchen’s biodegradable stuff; like rotting fruit and veggies. It is digesting this winter, for a spring crop. This is about half way done now.
Poop does take a while to break down into usable bits. Don’t rush it. What you collect this winter will be ready for tilling into your soil in a few weeks. Just in time for the planting. Prepare your soil in the off seasons. You can also just till in the poop and let it begin to break down in the soil while it is not in use.
When I build my compost heap, I layer it. What I call “Hot and Cold”. One Poop layer, then on top of that, one of cold organic matter; like the paper shreds and leaves. Between each layer I water it down good with a hose.
Here’s another neat bloggers list of stuff she adds. I’ll give her link here as credit. It’s only fair.
- Pet bedding (Rabbits, hamsters, and other herbivores only!!)
- Paper egg cartons
- Tissues and paper towelling (Depending on what was on them)
- Cotton balls (Depending on what was on them)
- Paper bags (I shred these)
- Toilet rolls
- Shredded paper, newspaper, receipts and documents (non-glossy)
- Wine corks
- Dry dog food (Be careful about attracting vermin but makes a good compost activator for getting your pile rocking.)
- Old spices and herbs from the cupboard
- Nut shells
- Wine (Another decent compost activator)
- Felt, old wool, bamboo or cotton socks
- Dust from sweeping and vacuuming
- Old pasta
- Spoiled flower bouquets and their water
This is also a very good article about Composting using poultry waste.
It is very likely you won’t have a perfect garden in one season. When you do the steps to nourish your ground though, you will have it yield to you in abundance.
The Alpha Chicken