Chicken Manure Management, Recycling, and Composting


Courtesy of Whirlston Fertilizer Machinery

Chicken Manure Fertilizer Manufacturing Process

If you have chickens, you will have manure. Fortunately, chicken manure is among the most prized of manures. Fresh chicken manure is considered a “hot” manure, which is unsuitable for immediate use. Chicken manure needs to be composted and aged at least two to three months before you add it to your garden. If you don’t wait that long, it will burn your plants.

Manure is a good source of organic material for composting. Not all manures are the same in composition. Nutrient levels can vary within manures considerably, depending on the diet and age of the animals, and the type of bedding manure is mixed with. For instance, manure mixed with straw has a different nitrogen composition than pure manure.

“Hot” manures are high in nitrogen, and they need time to mellow. “Cold” manures, such as from horses, are lower in nitrogen and are generally safe to use at all times. Check out the table for a look at manure composition levels in different animals. The first number indicates Nitrogen (N), the second number indicates Phosphorous (P), and the third number indicates Potash (K).

Manure Composition Levels: Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potash in Different Animal’s ManuresAnimal Producing the ManureHot or Cold Manure?Nitrogen LevelPhosphorous LevelPotash Level
Rabbit Hot 2.4 N 1.4 P 0.60 K
Chicken Hot 1.1 N 0.80 P 0.50 K
Sheep Hot 0.70 N 0.30 P 0.90 K
Steer Cold 0.70 N 0.30 P 0.40 K
Horse Cold 0.70 N 0.30 P 0.60 K
Dairy cow Cold 0.25 N 0.15 P 0.25 K

Sources: Rodale‘s All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, An Illustrated Guide to Organic Gardening, by Sunset Publishing, and the Rodale Guide to Composting.

Chicken manure is very high in nitrogen and a very desirable fertilizer for a garden. It is a hot manure, which needs time to age before adding it to your soil. Composting is an ideal method for aging chicken manure.

Do not walk barefoot in your garden for disease prevention when fresh manure is around. Free-ranging hens will poop manure randomly wherever they are foraging.

Manure takes a lot of management, and it’s key in raising chickens in your garden. Where there’s manure, there can be flies and sometimes maggots. You want your garden to look good, smell good, and have a nice ambience for entertaining and socializing. Without a manure management program, you’ll have nothing but problems.

Composting is the easy, practical solution for manure management. Remove manure from your chicken coop every day and turn it into your compost pile. It won’t smell, and it will be less accessible to flies, mice, and rodents.

The manure box effectively catches the bulk of the manure while your chickens are sleeping overnight on their roosting bar. The manure box, in effect, is similar to a cat’s litter box. Most of your flock’s manure drops and accumulates there. This manure box can be easily cleaned each morning as part of your daily routine.

Composting is great for your garden, rewarding for you, and green for the planet. It’s very easy to get started, and an ideal way to manage chicken manure, which is necessary when raising chickens. The following list offers ways you save money with composting in your own garden:

  • You save money by not having to buy commercial fertilizers and amendments.

  • You enhance your soil health and fertility and inhibit weed growth.

  • Your garden will require less water because the soil is able to retain moisture more effectively.

  • By composting and recycling, less yard waste, kitchen vegetables, and fruits scraps, are going into landfills, and the organic humus is going back into your garden.

Develop a routine of adding material to your compost every day by following a routine of emptying your kitchen compost container, followed by your chicken coop muck bucket, and adding these materials to your compost bin every day. Kitchen scraps are a big part of this equation.

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