How do you compost your chicken poo?

Nifty

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Two days ago I noticed the shavings in my coop were really wet (from the monsoon that swept through California) and so I emptied out my deep litter into the compost bin.

I went out to check it today and when I stuck a pitch fork in it I got a bath of hot steamy ammonia

:th

Now I smell like a huge bottle of ammonia... amazing how the gas / smell sticks to your clothes.

Well, the damp litter / shavings seems to be really hot right now, but I'm thinking the temp will fall off a cliff shortly like it did last time I did this.
 

digitS'

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Buff, you may need some of that ammonia (NH3) for your compost. Or, just more nitrogen, that is. Conversely, Nifty may need some of your stuff.

Your shavings are probably 400+ to 1, carbon to nitrogen. The chicken manure is something like 20 or 30 to 1, carbon to nitrogen. The optimal ratio within the completed compost pile is 30 to 1, carbon to nitrogen. That's very close to the straight poop.

Putting lawn clippings in, with their 15 to 1 (or so) ratio, improves the mix. A 5% N fertilizer is 20 to 1 and to speed things up, at all, an addition will need to be 5% nitrogen or better. Otherwise, you are in for a long haul with the microbes needing to work their way thru all those wood shavings.

urea is about 42% N
ammonium sulfate is about 21% N

Organic sources aren't so high in nitrogen and they can be expensive:

dried blood is about 12%
fish meal is about 10%
cottonseed meal is about 7%

According to Espoma, Bio-Excelerator contains fish meal and kelp.

Steve :rainbow-sun
 

Nifty

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Steve, does the nitrogen in the poo loose its "tang" after a bit causing the pile to cool and requiring more nitrogen?

Also, has anybody heard of people using an organic aqueous solution of waste electrolytes and metabolites excreted by mammals to increase the amount of nitrogen in their compost piles?

I read about this somewhere and almost fainted: :th

or almost died laughing :D
 

digitS'

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Not just what is excreted by any animal but a very particular animal :tools, one that walks on 2 legs . . .!!

There are a few things I'm NOT doing in my food garden :rolleyes:. . . and that's one of 'em!

Nitrogen is stored in compost in the form of micro-organisms, worms, and other critters. As long as they've got carbohydrates (carbon) to eat and a little water to drink, they aren't going anywhere. But, if one of them dies - that protein (16% nitrogen) is precious and will be consumed right away so the nitrogen in the organism just goes right into another living organism.

Chicken manure is a pretty darn high source of nitrogen. There are things you can do to it to make it literally, an explosive :eek:!! Lawn clippings are fairly high in N, also.

Nifty, I think you've got just too high of a nitrogen level in your compost. Some of it is turning into ammonia and evaporating. Your compost could probably benefit from the addition of more carbon, as in the form of dead leaves or even straw or a little bit of shavings.

Tossing in some soil should help also.

Steve

Edited to say that protein (16% nitrogen) indicates why you can't go real high in N from the "natural" world. Pure meat protein, with no fat or bone, is about 16% nitrogen, I can't think of a higher source. :)
 

Reinbeau

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Buff, is your pile high and compact, or spread out? It's tough to get things to rot properly in the winter around here. Activator might help, but you will have a nice, hot pile come spring (for that matter, have you used a thermometer in the pile? You might be surprised at what's going on at the center or bottom of that pile).
 

Buff Shallots

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Thank you Digits - from what others had said about compost, I know I need more nitrogen, but didn't know where to get it without throwing in green stuff.

Besides using the Bio-Excelerator, what if I threw in some Aluminum Sulfate? Would that make the whole compost pile go acid?

Reinbeau, they are two black plastic enclosed composter bins. (Required by my Town before I could get the $150 permit to have chickens!) I will stick my hand in the middle of the biggest one to see what's going on. Maybe this weekend, when I'm home during the daytime.
 

digitS'

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Buff, should you use a synthetic fertilizer?? Well, I can just say that I used ammonium sulfate for quite a few years, even in my vegetable garden compost. The problem for me back then was that I had large gardens and lots of dead plants at the end of every season - lots of carbon. Certainly, I didn't have enuf nitrogen from my own critter manure. But, what I finally began to do was to start buying it :)!

Raising the pH - I know that Washington State U, not too far away from me, used ammonium sulfate and elemental sulfur, each applied at a rate of 1 lb. per cubic yard of municipal compost. It would be difficult to know the pH of your wood shavings without testing. The initial pH of new sawdust in a U of Tennessee study was 7.78, that's high. Soil scientists consider ammonium sulfate safer for the home gardener than elemental sulfur because it has only 1/6th of the acidifying effect. None of that info answers your question Buff but I think it shouldn't change the pH much.

Buff, about that Bio-Excelerator - I suspect that it is just a very expensive organic fertilizer and using enuf to make much of a difference in the compost will be costly. That's why I'm suggesting that you and Nifty team up on compost-making . . . . :) .

Steve
 

Buff Shallots

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Okay Rocket Digits - I'm confusing ammonium sulfate with aluminum sulfate (which I give to our hydrangeas to make them blue). (Or am I dreaming up the aluminum part?)

I'd be happy to send wood shavings to Nifty if he gives me chicken poo... hmm... I should rephrase that.
 

digitS'

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Is this helpful?

Cooperative Extension Service, University of Georgia "Approximately one pound of actual nitrogen (six cups of ammonium nitrate) is required for the breakdown of 100 pounds of dry sawdust." (italics, my own)

Ammonium sulfate is equivalent to ammonium nitrate.

If you are using chicken manure instead - - figure 5 to 10 gallons of straight chicken poo per 100 pounds of sawdust or shavings.

This is NOT the 2-week program: "Generally, a well-managed compost pile with shredded materials under warm conditions will be ready in about two to four months."

Steve
:tools
 

Nifty

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That is great information. Someone could get really scientific with the following information to determine the exact time to take the "litter" from the coop to create a compost pile with just the right mix:

1) Pounds of shavings in deep litter
2) Number and size of chickens (average "output" per chicken per day)

:D
 

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