using poultry manure on garden

lvannote(z5IN)January 8, 2007

I may be doing the wrong thing and now I am worried. I keep 8 hens and use straw for bedding. Since this fall I have been cleaning out their pen about once a week and spredding the wet straw including droppings on my dormant garden. I thought I could till it in and plant this spring. Should I have composted the bedding instead. Will it be safe to plant ?

Thanks , I appreciate any advice from experienced organic gardeners.

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Dibbit(z7b SC)

No, it should be fine. Using it on a non-dormant garden would be a problem - chicken manure is hot - but with the winter months to "age" in and the garden being dormant, by the time you come to till it in, things will be fine. I would stop adding any manure at least 2, if not 3-4, weeks before you plan to till. During the growing months, I would plan on piling the stuff up for at least a few weeks, a few months would be better, and then add it to whatever you want to with no worries.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 6:08PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

All manures should be composted first because even in winter manures can loose nutrients to the atmosphere amd composting can help capture those nutrients. If fresh manure is spread on the garden and tilled in that should be done no less that 6 to 8 weeks before planting, mostly to give the soil time to settle.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 6:16AM
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ohiorganic(5/6 SW Ohio)

One thing to look out for is adding too much nitrogen to your soil. Chicken poop either fresh or composted contains a lot of N and over a few years will make for high N readings in your soil, enough to cause some problems with fruiting crops like tomatoes. But great for heavy feeders like corn or lettuce.

I agree with Kim that you should be composting it. You also do not have to clean out your henhouse so often. When I had 75 hens I cleaned out the coop about 4 to 5 times a year and had healthy birds

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 7:36AM
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sandylighthouse(7)

Dig the raw poop right into your garden, a minimum of three months before planting. The nitrogen will be more than made up for by the carbon in the straw. Poultry manures with a lot of wood shavings, rice hulls, or straw, often net negative N.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 4:16PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

For an Indiana gardener digging manure into the soil at least 3 months before planting means they would be turning soil in March when that soil most likely is still too cold or too wet to be worked. That is why composting the manure is the best route to follow. Finished compost, including that manure, can be put on the garden anytime of the year including all during the growing season with no concern about it being "too hot" or potential disease pathogens.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2007 at 6:41AM
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russh_nepa

Depends to on the nature of the bedding, or the ratio of dropping to straw. If you are cleaning out once a week then your may have mostly straw, and little manure(have to laugh, I'm not sure you will continue that practice long. Mine get cleaned out about 4 times a year!And it is still mostly shavings, not manure. That's with 16 hens.)

If it is mostly straw then based on my experience in PA it should be fine. In the summer I need loads of mulch. I don't turn the bedding directly into the soil, but lay it in paths where it shades soil, maintains moisture, and encourages earthworms, so that by fall I can easily till it in and improve soil for next year.

Of course, if you have time, and don't need it right away, then by all means compost it first. Or, if it is mostly manure, then definately compost first.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 4:13PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Putting bedding from animal housing, which contains much more manure than many people think, down as mulch is a waste of a valuable resource. When used as mulch most nutrients from that bedding will simply evaporate into the atmosphere and be lost. Composting that same bedding will capture those nutrients for use in the soil.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2007 at 7:09AM
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lvannote(z5IN)

Thanks for all the good advice. After reading everyones post I decided to compost the bedding. I moved my plastic compost bins by the coop and its all going in there now.
One comment that everyone made was that I clean the pin to much. I just hate to thank the chickens are always walking and sitting on their poop. Isn't this a problem. I am certainly no clean freak and this is the first time I have ever been associated with cleaning to much , I hade to laugh. Thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2007 at 6:33AM
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humpbacks1962(Connecticut, 6)

I have just two backyard chickens, and also clean their hutch weekly, or several times a week. Originally got them for biological pest control, but I get two fresh eggs daily, which is plenty for a family of three. So I know they're well kept animals. I do not like the smell of their feces, and don't like to see them eating off poop. I think if it makes you feel comfortable and more accepting of the "ways of the chickens," then keep your cluckers clean!
I have them in straw, and the compost pile really fluffs up in no time, so I am adding less straw and still cleaning their home often. I prefer to clean more often to keep adding straw to a dirty place.

Wanda

    Bookmark   January 17, 2007 at 10:17PM
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anniew(4-5/PA)

If you use fresh manure on the garden, the organic rule according to the local certifier is it needs to be incorporated 120 days before harvesting food crops that will touch the ground, and 90 days before harvesting crops that are up off the ground. The first instance might be unstaked tomatoes, and the second might be staked tomatoes, as an example.
Ann

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 1:57PM
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andduckiesmake8

We are currently raising 4 ducks on our property and boy do they poop a lot. We currently use pine wood shavings for their bedding but may have access to organically produced straw which is also half the price of the wood shavings. Would it be preferable to use the straw for composting or should I just stick with the pine shavings?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 6:39AM
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