Curing Chicken Manure?

kareng_growMarch 19, 2011

I'm the lucky recipient of chicken poo from my next door neighbor. I've looked up how to cure it before applying to my garden beds and have only found that you need to "cook it" for 3 days in a moist heap under some plastic. Is there another, better/easier way? Can I apply the manure directly to beds now since I won't be planting in them till May? Would love some alternative suggestions...

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Dan Staley

I, personally, wouldn't apply because you don't know if the nitrates will volatilize, and you'll risk burning the feeder roots of the new little guys going in. That is a great gift and treat it appropriately.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 12:19PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

What Dan says----again! With chicken manure, I'd use the Sniff Test! Compost it with lots of leaves/straw/dried stuff/chicken bedding, and wait till it smells like "compost" to use it. Maybe I'm too conservative about this one, but as long as it still smells like chicken poop, I wouldn't use it in the garden. Like Dan says, it's great stuff, but do it the right way. You'll wind up with wonderful, high nutrient organic matter to use in your soil.

Happy man-u-ray,

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 1:41PM
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Three days! That sounds like lightening speed to me, Karen.

I suppose it is cow manure that causes the concern about e. coli but, obviously, nothing will compost in 3 days. Is Cooperative Extension recommending that short of time?

Personally, I have buried litter from the backyard coop under about 8" of garden soil in the early spring with little concern about burning plants or contamination. When I was using pine needles for bedding - the combination seemed like a very good soil amendment just as it was.

If your neighbor uses shavings, you may have some real problems with nitrogen depletion in your garden. Wood has such a high C:N ratio that it takes far more manure than most people are willing to tolerate building up in their backyard coop to allow for some reasonable rate of decomposition.

I believe Extension suggests fall application of any manure if it is going directly on the garden but, I may be behind the times.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 1:56PM
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Thanks guys...Excellent advice and words of caution. The chicken poo comes with lots of bedding as well...hadn't thought about the nitrogen needed to break that down. I suppose I could bury the manure in my raised beds about 8" under the soil but I think I'll stay on the side of cautious and find a place in the yard to heap the stuff and be patient. Maybe buy a couple of dark plastic garbage cans and drill some holes in the sides and lids and store them on their sides so I can roll them every once in awhile? hrmmm...Maybe I'll try some in a pile and some in a garbage can and see which works better. I have lots. There's 22 chickens next door.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 2:19PM
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