Bone meal....make your own?

idogcow(z8)January 23, 2006


I hate throwing stuff away, even bones, so I was wondering...I have a heavy-duty wood chipper. If I were to run the bones from mealtime through it (pork, chicken, etc), would I have bone meal? Or is bone meal something more than ground-up bones?



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More powdered than ground-up. After running them through a chipper, you'll have to grind them like flour to gain any short term benefit from them, in my opinion. Bones take a long time to decompose. Think dinosaurs.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 6:11PM
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squeeze(z8 BC)

actually bonemeal is made using a steaming process that includes caustic soda, also part of the process of rendering slaughterhouse wastes like making animal glue - an industrial process, not just grinding up


    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 6:41PM
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paquebot(Z-4b WI)

From experience, I find that bones WILL decompose quickly. In the past 30 years or so, my gardens have consumed over 100 deer rib cages. They hang all winter for the birds to pick clean. (Five hanging in the lilacs right now!) They are run through a shredder or bagging mower a few times and composted, originally in a pile but a tumbler the past 9 years. You'd think that my garden would be white with bits of bone by now but it isn't. 43 years worth of chicken, turkey, squirrel, rabbit, 'coon, 'possum, pigeons, pig, cow, and any other edible critter's bones have all gone back to the ground. The only thing that shows up now and then are round steak bones. Otherwise everything vanishes in a few years as long as the stuff is in small bits. I've even smashed deer leg bones into small pieces with a hatchet and composted them. The slightly acidic soil takes care of them in the end.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 11:32PM
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southerngurl(6 Ark)

Speaking of bone meal, my dog just ate like 2 lbs of it. I called the company and they said it would be ok, just might constipate her.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 8:32PM
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I make my bone meal out of chicken bones. After a chicken dinner I will boil the bones to remove any leftover fat or meat, which goes to my dog. Then I put the bones on my gas grill and basically turn them into charcoal. Once they are done I use an old coffee bean grinder and turn them into powder. The powder is of course black instead of the white stuff you buy in a bag. My tomatoes and potatoes love it and produce muchos fruitos!!!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 11:38PM
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veggiecanner(Id 5/6)

All our bones are burnt in the wood furnace. Then they go out with the wood ashes and are spread on the snow all winter.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 3:36PM
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Demeter(z6 NJ)

Not quite on target, but ... I have a heavy duty "blender" - a VitaMixer, actually. It can pulverize bones - I've used it on chicken and turkey bones aplenty, though I haven't tried it on beef bones. I figure pulverizing the bones in water = bone meal soup. I put it in my compost, since it's mixed in with leftover bits of meat and fat and marrow, and it heats up the compost very nicely, but I could also put it under plants that like bone meal, I guess.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 1:09PM
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I'm with veggiecanner. After we have made stock with our meat bones (which you all do, I assume) we put the bones on our log fire. When we empty the grate we crush any bones that have held their shape by hand. Then the bones and wood-ash go on the compost heap. It's truly said that if you aren't recycling your'e throwing it all away. Regards, Peter.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 5:31PM
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So would it be a better choice to burn the bones or bake them? Would any bones do?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 4:36PM
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idogcow: we make our own bonemeal by throwing bones on the fire back. All the bones from the meat we eat, from leg of lamb to ox tail, are simmered all day to make stock. Then, in the winter only of course, the bones are burned. When we take the wood ash from the fireplace in spring, any bones that haven't disintegrated are easily crushed by hand. So the bonemeal goes onto the compost pile or the soil with the wood ash -- progressively and in small quantities of course. This may be a problem for people with high pH, because wood ash tends to send it higher. But I like the idea because I regard anything that only provides one use as second class. Regards, Peter.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 6:07PM
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Peter, so do you actually store the bones and use it for fireplace fuel in the winter?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 7:33PM
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kathyp(z9 CA)

OK - for all you bone burners - what does that smell like? I live in the city, and my neighbors would have a fit if they smelled burning bone - how bad is it? I would love to be able to do this, but only if it won't offend the neighbors.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 10:01PM
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PaulNS(NS zone 6a)

"I regard anything that only provides one use as second class."

Well said, Peter, I'll be sure to repeat it.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 6:34PM
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So I decided to make some of my own bone meal. I baked some chicken and pork bones on 400 for an hour and half until most of it became charred (quite smoky though). Then I crushed it in a mortar and pestle, which was surprisingly easy to do.

Afterwards, I decided to rinse the crushed bones with water. The liquid that came out was a bright orange yellow, almost like urine. Does anyone know what this liquid is composed of?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 2:01PM
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If you ran your oven for an hour and a half to make a small quantity of bone meal you did more harm to the environment than good. I can see throwing the bones in a fireplace where you would be making a fire anyway, but to use an oven seems very wasteful.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 2:53PM
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I made quite a large batch of bones, so hopefully it isn't that bad.

Also I figured electricity is pretty efficient compared to fire and the heat of the oven is insulated so not much energy has to be consumed

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 3:06PM
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takadi: about burning bones on the fire, I should explain that we leave the ashes in the grate all winter (this is to reduce the draft and slow down burning) and clear them out in the spring. Regards, Peter.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 6:06PM
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I don't know if burning the bones, or baking them at high heat will change the available nurtient content or not, you will be hard pressed to make enough to do a lot of good for your garden. If you don't want to waste them, I would suggest letting them dry in the son for a few week, break them up as best you can and throw them into the garden. Let nature take it's course.

The Garden Guy
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    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 6:34PM
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I'm not a major meat eater. But I've been burying chicken and turkey bones in my garden, about 12 inches under, and they seem to disappear within 6 months.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 7:57PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

I have always wondered about this topic. Thanks for all the ideas.

As for simply burying bones in the garden, I figure that slow composting is not necessarily a negative.

Remember a story about a permaculturist who added a huge batch of some sort of sea shells to a field. An old farmer laughed at him, saying the shells wouldn't break down for 100 years. The permie thought, "Great! I'll have minerals for the next 100 years!" Just a different mindset.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 4:12PM
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I just dig a hole in the garden and bury the bones after the dog cleans them. Eventually they break down. I'm too old to be in a hurry.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 7:19PM
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"I don't know if burning the bones, or baking them at high heat will change the available nurtient content or not,"

It will. Bones have quite a lot of nitrogen in the protein that acts as "rebar" in the mineral matrix. Charring the bones burns the protein and releases the nitrogen to the atmosphere if taken too far.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2010 at 11:30PM
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>actually bonemeal is made using a steaming process that >includes caustic soda, also part of the process of >rendering slaughterhouse wastes like making animal glue - >an industrial process, not just grinding up

I'm old enough to remember when bone meal was made of ground bones right from the packing plant without any cleaning or steaming. It was terrific stuff but OMG did it stink.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 1:07PM
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Is it OK to get bone meal from my butcher? thanks

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 1:58AM
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Hey everyone,

I read this thread and was very intrigued, if you're looking for bone meal for your outside garden burying the small (or broken up) bones is best without burning. The process of burning the bones is like what Phytolacca posted. Fire usually breaks apart molecules and proteins.

On the note of the whole forum, which has kind of been askew, is that you should dry the animal bones out either via sun or just hung up, if you wanna throw some extra heat (by putting them next to the wood stove for example) should be fine. After that you can break up the bones into a powder with a mortar and pestle, or whatever way you like, but the more its broken down the better it will be. If you're into indoor gardening or container gardening you want this to be as fine as possible so the plants can access the nutrients.

Other than that you could put into compost as well.

Something to add as well, would you be able to dry and store the blood of the meat to make blood meal? I'm assuming blood meal is just dried blood. but if you were to mix your powdered blood and bone meal together you'de have a nice fertilizer of like 12-12-1 add that with some vermicompost or compost and you're plants will probably love it, of course to harvest that much blood and bone is a lot of meat so if you wanna make your own stick with organically raised chickens, plus eggs and eggshells and all that jazz.

Sorry if i threw things off a bit.

have a great one.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 6:52AM
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I've had luck with poultry. When I make stock, I allow it to simmer for more than 8 hours. If you cook your bones long enough in liquid, they'll crumble beautifully into meal. And then it's either straight into the garden, the compost bin, or back into a freezer bag because you haven't gotten a compost bin yet. (And the last would be myself!)
Now, for pork bones or beef bones, I've not attempted. I, too, live in a city in an apartment. Though my landlord has been more than pleased with my gardening, I imagine they wouldn't be too pleasant towards hanging bones.
...Unless I could find something artsy to do with ox tail rings. Then it could be decorative art over the winter.

Best of luck in these chilly months!


    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 7:11PM
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A chipper would only handle small or medium sized bones. You might break the chipper with any larger bones.

I put my large bones into an outdoor solar dehydrator for over a year. Between the heating and freezing and thawing, they become brittle. Then I run them through a hammer mill.

Actually I eat the smaller bones - chicken, duck, rabbit, etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden For Nutrition

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 12:20AM
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1. To avoid wasting bones one needs to make stock. Simmer the bones in water, with a small dash of vinegar, all day long. Decant, and make soup with the stock. (I can't imagine soup made without it.)

2. Throw the bones on a wood fire. (This presents a seasonal limitation.) When you clean out the wood ash in Spring, the bones are part of it; many will have disintegrated, those that haven't will do so when crushed by hand. Result, a dual soil amendment

So, like all truly organic processes, there are multiple uses for any "waste" ; think dead leaves and yogurt pots, to name but two.

Regards, Peter.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 4:48PM
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you can make bone sauce with your leftover bones.....repels critters from eating your place like deer......look up permaculture and bone sauce recipe

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 7:25PM
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I make stock.

Then, I dry them via numerous ways.

Next, I take some and grind them down via the metal cheese grater box thingy. These are used when planting heavy feeders in the garden. No idea if it helps. I think it does.

That which I don't want to bother with gets put into the compost.

Most bones go to the dogs in raw fashion with fat and meat trimming when I prepare the raw meats. Great for their teeth. Probably the most useful application of bones.

I have coons and skunks so I don't put regular bones in the compost. I am familiar. They really do degrade well if the local clime has an abundance of soil-borne life forms. Artificial soil isn't going to decompose anything in the same manner as nature.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2013 at 12:52AM
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I have been saving the bones I give to my dogs for at least 10 years hoping to find some way to make them into bonemeal. I am going to try and steam them over wet sand in a half 55 gallon metal drum over a fire and see what happens. I have so many of them . . . they will fill up the barrel. If anyone has tried this method . . . please let me know. If this doesn't work I am going to just burn them in the fire and use the ash with the burnt bone in my compost.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 12:14AM
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If you're not going to waste bones you make stock - right. Boil them all day, with a little bit of vinegar, and the soup you make with the stock will be far better for it. Now what? Throw the bones on the wood fire, and when you clear out the wood-ash, and by hand crush the bones that haven't disintegrated into powder or powderish. So here you nave bone meal plus all the minerals that were in the wood. Regards, Peter.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 3:09PM
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I am new to this site and enjoyed reading everyone's experience. Quite a nice batch of information. I collect bones and make a batch of stock in the oven overnight at 210 degrees F. Sometimes I throw the bones in the gardens or grind them to use as a base for dog treats. When my beloved hogs return from the butcher, I pressure cook their heads, remove all soft edible parts to can for the dogs and cats, and throw the bones to the chickens to peck off the stuff that I could not remove. The chickens will strip them clean and also eat some of the bone, great for egg shell integrity. After pressure cooking the bones are pretty soft, so I can just throw them in the garden once the chickens have their fill. I will also put feathers in my garden after processing a batch of broilers, turkeys and/or ducks. These break down amazingly quickly. I save all my egg shells for the garden. Some shells I compost, some I throw directly in the garden and others I save for transplanting my tomatoes....I understand that the calcium can help in preventing blossom end rot. All that said, the thing that offers the most obvious, dramatic, and instant benefit to my plants in bunny poop, which is composted prior to leaving the bunny and can be applied straight away to the garden..

    Bookmark   February 10, 2015 at 4:12PM
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