mendopeteMarch 13, 2012

About 16 months ago I started a new system to handle manure from our horse and 8 chickens. I lined a 10'x3' area with moldy hay bales and put about 6" of aged horse manure in the bottom. To this I added about 10cu' of worm castings and cocoons from a worm cage I broke down. Then I transferred worms from my other beds and a neighbors worm bin.

Over the next few months I continued to add composted manure and hay until it overflowed. The worms rapidly reproduced. I pulled 3 bales of hay back and began expanding this "windrow" laterally. Now my pile of worms and poop is about 10'x18'. It has no bottom and is covered by a large piece of used office carpet to keep critters out. My chickens patrol the perimeter and catch escapee's.

I held off until last week for my first harvest. I dug out and turned the area I started with and got about 20 cu'. However I waited too long letting the herd expand and tree roots had infiltrated the VC and clumpped it up. I plan to continue my harvest until about 1/2 is taken, and then work the row nack to the starting pointand begi harvesting the other side.

If anyone out there is interested in larger scale systems such as this feel free to ask for more details.

Cheers, Pete

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ralleia(z5 Omaha, NE)

I am interested in seeing some photos and details.

We have one horse in the pasture (straight manure) and 34 chickens on pine shaving litter. When the coop gets cleaned out the aroma from the pile of chicken manure and shavings is unpleasant for a long time. I'd be interested in figuring out how to speed the decomposition process and keep it more aromatic.

I have an existing three-bin worm composter in the house with plenty of little workers.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 8:50AM
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Hi ralleia. Sorry, but no pics. I am low-tech, unable, and do not own a digital camrea. My phone even has a cord! lol

I should mention I live in a good worm climate. The ground does not freeze in the winter and it usually rains often. The summers are mild, often cool foggy, and damp. I can;t build a compost pile without native red worms populating it.

My horse is also in the pasture and I regularly pick-up and compost it's manure straight. I have also found that my worms like it straight and fresh best. If you can get it on the pile before it dries out it heats the bin up, a good thing in the winter.It seems to cause rapid reproduction.

As for my chickens, they run free during the day. Their coop is deep liter with pine shavings and hay. We clean under the roosts twice weekly and mix that with horse manure in a compost pile with no big odor issues. We only remove all deep litter annually and I also mix with horse manure and let it compost first. I may have built up a tolerance, but I do not notice much smell (flies are another issue!). I do compost downwind from the house.

Now that my worm population has exploded, They can turn a wheelbarrow of horse "apples" to VC in about 4 weeks. They get about 3 of those weekly.I have only put worms in open bottom systems. If gophers are a problem you may need a hardware cloth bottom. I built my haybale wedge in the forest because of shade and the tree roots are so thick the gophers and moles do not go there.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 6:51PM
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