Chickens poop a lot! They poop all day long, even when they are sleeping. One adult chicken is capable of producing around 11 lbs of poop a month! So why not do something beneficial with it, like turning it into garden soil?
To safely use chicken manure in your garden as a fertilizer, it must be composted first. In order for the compost to be beneficial for your garden, it must reach an internal temperature between 130℉-150℉. This eliminates harmful bacteria, while keeping beneficial bacteria still alive.
Making your own nutrient rich garden soil is really not that difficult to do and if you are raising chickens, you already have the most important materials needed, chicken manure and bedding. With a shovel, thermometer and a little knowledge, you are on your way to making some really good “black gold!”
Step 1: Get Some Chickens!
In order to make some really good garden soil, otherwise known as “black gold,” you will need to get some chickens to produce manure.
Compared to horse, steer and cow manure, chicken manure contains the highest quantities of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, the 3 most important nutrients for your garden soil.
What is the NPK in Chicken Manure?
Nitrogen(N) is the number one essential nutrient that will make your garden flourish. It is what makes your plants so leafy and green.
Phosphorus(P) is the second big nutrient in chicken manure. It helps to strengthen the stems so they can grow more upright.
Potassium(K) This macronutrient helps plants to grow strong roots and produce increased amounts of fruit and flowers. It also helps to strengthen plants against diseases and helps get them through the cold, winter months. It also helps to strengthen the stems so they can grow more upright.
Chicken manure is an excellent soil amendment. When you compost it and apply it to your garden, it provides a slow release of these and several other very valuable nutrients.
What Nutrients Are in Composted Chicken Manure?
Macronutrients are the elements that your plants need in large amounts in order to flourish.
Micronutrients are the elements that your plants need, but in smaller amounts.
By composting your chicken manure and using it in your garden, you are providing both macronutrients and micronutrients for your plants.
While nitrogen(N), phosphorus(P) and potassium(K) are the nutrients that are needed the most, composted chicken manure also contains many other macronutrients and micronutrients that are essential for your garden to flourish.
TABLE: Macronutrients and Micronutrients in Chicken Compost
|(N) NITROGEN||MACRONUTRIENT |
Step 2: Layer Coop Floor With Bedding Material
Most chicken keepers will use pine shavings, wood chips, saw dust, dried leaves, grass clippings or straw for bedding material. I have found that wood chips don’t break down as quickly as pine shavings do. My preferred bedding in the chicken coop is pine shavings.
Every few days, add some more bedding on top of the chicken manure. This not only will absorb the odors, but it will help the material on the bottom to begin breaking down.
Keep adding layers of bedding over the chicken manure every few days until you are ready to clean your chicken coop. I like to do this monthly.
Step 3: Save Chicken Poop and Bedding
In one month, your chicken coop has probably accumulated several inches of bedding mixed with chicken manure. It’s time to clean out the bedding and manure and add it to a compost pile or bin.
Is Chicken Poop Toxic to Humans?
Chicken poop can be toxic to humans. It can contain Salmonella and Campylobacter which are bacteria toxic to both humans and animals. Healthy chickens can carry this and it can be transmitted to humans through chicken manure.
To protect yourself from contracting these diseases, it is important to wear protective gear when cleaning out your chicken coop. This includes: coop boots that you only wear when around your chickens, gloves, respirator or n-95 mask, eye protection and clothes that cover your arms and legs.
What Diseases Can Chickens Transmit to Humans?
|DISEASE||HOW TRANSMITTED||HUMAN SYMPTOMS|
EGGS AND CHICKEN
|DIARRHEA, VOMITTING, FEVER,|
EGGS AND CHICKEN
|DIARRHEA, VOMITTING, FEVER,|
|COUGH, SHORTNESS OF BREATH|
BIRD FLU, (VIRAL)
|FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS, PINK EYE,|
|MILD FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS,|
MILD EYE INFECTIONS
|DIARRHEA, VOMITTING, FEVER,|
For more information on what diseases you can get when cleaning out your chicken coop and how you can prevent it, read my article, Can Cleaning a Chicken Coop Make You Sick? (9 Tips).
Step 4: 18 Days of “Hot Composting”
Heat is generated when multiple organisms work to break down organic material. At the center of your compost pile you will have the highest heat.
Hot composting speeds up the decomposition process. By heating it up to about 140℉, it will kill any disease pathogens and seeds, something that cold composting doesn’t do.
In order to make a good garden compost, you need to have a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 3:1, 3 parts of bedding to 1 part chicken manure.
Once you have collected enough bedding and manure to fill a minimum 3′ x 3′ x 3′ area, you are ready to start the composting process.
How to Make Garden Soil Out of Chicken Manure in 18 Days-Step by Step
- Lay 6 inches of bedding mixed with manure in your compost bin or designated area.
- Add enough water for compost to feel like a wrung out sponge when squeezed.
- Add another layer of bedding with manure and water.
- Continue this until all of your compost is in a 3′ x 3′ x 3′ pile.
- Loosely cover the bin.
- Don’t turn for the first 4 days.
- Use a thermometer to measure the temperature in the middle of the compost pile. You want the center of the compost pile to reach about 140℉. The compost will peak in temperature around day 6-8 and then gradually start to cool throughout the composting process.
- Turn the soil every other day for 2 weeks. When turning, you want to move the center of the pile that is heated to the outside and bring the cooler, outside edges towards the center.
- Compost is done when it has turned dark brown in color and has a nice earthy smell. It shouldn’t stink.
Pro Tips to Make Garden Soil Out of Chicken Manure
#1 Pro Tip: Turning the compost not only speeds up the decomposition process, it also adds oxygen to the compost and keeps it evenly moist.
#2 Pro Tip: It is important to add just the right amount of water to the compost. Water is needed to help the bacteria start the decomposing process.
#3 Pro Tip: If the compost smells, it has too much nitrogen(poop), add some more clean bedding such as pine shavings or sawdust.
How to Tell if Compost is Too Moist?
Problem: Too much water will not allow the compost to breathe and can slow or stop the decomposition. It may even smell or have a slimy texture.
Test: Check the soil by sticking your gloved hand into the middle of the pile. Take a handful of compost and squeeze it. If more than a drop of water comes out, it is too moist.
Solution: Add some dry bedding such as sawdust or pine shavings.
How to Tell if Compost is Too Dry?
Problem: Too little moisture can also cause a lack of decomposition.
Test: Check the soil by sticking your gloved hand into the middle of the pile. The soil should be the consistency of a wrung out sponge. You do not want the compost to be dry.
Solution: Add some grass clippings and water to the pile. Grass clippings will help to hold in moisture.
Step 5: Adding Compost to Your Garden
By hot composting properly, you will destroy any disease causing pathogens. When the compost is dark brown and has a nice earthy smell, it is finally safe to add to your garden.
Start by adding about 2″ of compost to your garden bed. This can be worked into the top 4″ of garden soil, but it is not necessary. By watering, nutrients will slowly be released for your plants to absorb.
If you are adding new plants, dig your holes and add a few handfuls of compost before adding your new plants.
FAQ About Composting Chicken Manure
CONCLUSION: How to Make Garden Soil Out of Chicken Manure
If you are already raising some chickens, you are already blessed with the chicken poop. You might as well make use out of all the chicken manure and bedding that you have each time you clean out your chicken coop. Now that you know how to make garden soil out of chicken manure, why not give it a try?