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Can I Compost Chicken waste?

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chicken-pooYes, chicken poo, from healthy chickens, can be composted.

Chicken manure is as a useful fertiliser but fresh droppings are considered too “hot” to put straight onto the garden (they are very alkaline and can burn delicate roots and stems). However, it is just fine to add them to a compost heap: by the time the rest of the heap has decomposed, the chicken poo will have calmed down a bit so will feed rather than hurt your plants. (Though still don’t use it on acid-loving plants as it’ll still be more alkaline than they like.)

As always, it’s best to keep your compost heap balanced, made up of a range of different things, rather than just one thing – it’ll produce better compost quicker and with less smell. Since chicken waste is nitrogen-heavy, it is best added alongside “browns“, like wood shavings/sawdust or straw — you know, the type of things that chickens in a coop or run might poop into. If it’s not already mixed in with bedding materials like that, add it to your compost heap in moderation (1 part poo to 4 or 5 parts other stuff) and mix it in well.

Some people with a lot of chickens keep a separate compost bin for just the contents of their chicken coops — the poo, straw/sawdust and stray feathers etc — to create a stronger fertiliser than a general compost. It still needs a while to “cool down” though – about six months, depending on how wet the heap is and how often you turn it.

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