Composting Chicken Manure for the Vegetable Garden

Chicken manure is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and is a vital ingredient in your compost pile. Nitrogen helps your compost pile heat to the temperatures needed to break down your green matter.

Manure from your backyard chickens provides the perfect medium for this process.

The following table shows the different nutrients in the most available animal manures.

  • Nitrogen - Phosphoric - Potash Acid
  • Poultry - 5% - 3.5% - 0.5%
  • Cow - 0.6 - 0.2 - 0.5
  • Horse - 0.7 - 0.3 - 0.6

Fresh chicken manure is concentrated and should not be used on your vegetables and plants.

Finished compost is a concentrated fertilizer and can be added to your soil to increase the humus and condition of the soil. Spread ½ an inch over your vegetable garden and around trees and flowers.

Making Compost

The materials needed to make compost include:

    Green Matter; Grass clippings, weeds, leaves and vegetable matter.
    Nitrogen; Chicken, cow or horse manure.
    Brown Matter; Straw, wood shavings
    Water and heat.

Choose a location for your compost heap. The compost pile can be contained with fencing, boards or bricks. This helps to keep your compost pile neat.

Manure is mixed with your bedding, usually straw or pine shavings. The bedding provides the brown matter in your compost pile. The brown matter is loose and lets in air. The air layer is important to good microbial break down.

Spread a layer of chicken manure mixed with bedding about 2-3 inches deep, water to moisten. Add 5-6 inches of green matter, grass clipping, vegetable scraps etc. Add another layer of chicken manure with bedding material and moisten. Continue to make layers as you acquire material through out the year.

Cover compost pile with black plastic in between additions to keep smell down and hasten breakdown. When pile gets to 3 to 4 feet high cover and start a new pile. Covering your compost pile with black plastic eliminates turning and watering the pile. Give it time and let nature do her job.

The following year check your pile. It is ready when the matter is broken down and a rich brown with no smell. It will look like rich soil.

Sheet Composting Chicken Manure

This method is easy and dose not requires a pile. In the fall when you clean out our chicken coop and the vegetable are harvested, spread the manure over your garden.

Layer leaves and grass clippings on top of the manure. Let the material stay on the garden to break down over the winter and till into the garden the next spring.

You can till the garden in the fall and break up the material before winter, but I find letting it sit over winter breaks down the material making easier to till in the spring.

Garbage Can Compost

If you have a small yard use can use a galvanized garbage can to contain compost. Galvanized garbage cans are available at feed and hardware stores and keep odors in.

Punch holes in the bottom, sides and top of can.

Put about 4 inches of soil in the bottom of can. Layer your material just like in a pile in the yard. Cover with lid and keep adding to your can until it’s full. Let nature do her work. When the compost is rich and brown it is ready to use.

Benefits of Compost

    1. Compost adds nutrients to the soil creating a natural fertilizer for plants.
    2. Adds hummus increasing condition of your soil.
    3. Increases air and moisture retention.
    4. Helps buffer and stabilize soil pH

Compost can be added to your flower gardens and used around fruit trees. I spread a 1 inch layer on top of my rows in the vegetable garden before I plant. Use compost to make your own potting soil for house plants and starting your vegetables in the winter.

Potting soil mix;

3 parts peat moss
3 parts compost
1 part peralite

Mix and store in buckets. Use for starting seeds and transplanting. Also use to start seeds in your grow boxes in the spring.

› Composting