The Truth of Using Chicken Manure in Your Garden

Sometimes the most potent fertilizing agents for your garden can come from the most unexpected of places. For the longest time using manure in your garden has been praised as being one of the best natural garden growing additions for any gardener. Although the most common type is cow manure, chicken waste is a naturally potent fertilizer that’s packed with twice as much nitrogen, phosphorus, and Potassium as any other animal. If you’re a current backyard flock owner, then you’ll want to learn how to utilize this free fertilizer before adding it to your growing greens.

Why add Nitrogen, Phosphorus, & Potassium?

Before we recommend immediately using your flock’s waste in your garden, it’s important to note if it’s necessary. Although all fertilizers are assumed to be deemed helpful, their additions can easily be overdone. We recommend prior to fertilizing to test your soil for nitrogen & phosphorus levels. Tests can easily be attained here and often only require mixing soil, water, and an included capsule. 

Nitrogen is already abundant in air and soil, but many times plants may need more to fully reap its needed benefits. Once added via fertilizer, nitrogen will help plants grow quicker and bigger while producing higher yields. A lack of nitrogen will result in subpar growth and yellowing leaves. Whereas too much will delay flowering and may lead to low-quality fruit or if added too early, may “burn” your plants.

Phosphorus although present in the soil, doesn’t often get absorbed by plants as easily as nitrogen. Soil lacking in phosphorus will grow slower and hardly develop roots and seeds. Too much and your plants won’t be able to absorb other important nutrients in the soil, resulting in lackluster growth. 

Potassium helps stabilize a healthy structure for your plants. Not only does it ensure faster plant growth, but it also helps fight off disease and pest visits. A deficiency in potassium is clear in the appearance of your plant’s leaves, developing brown spots and yellowing. 

So You Can’t Exactly Just Add It Immediately…

Add chicken manure to your plants as is and your plants will likely “burn” due to the high ammonia. Misused and chicken waste may also increase the risk of illness as you are working with bacteria & pathogens. To begin utilizing your flock’s waste as a super fertilizer, you’ll have to work through the process of breaking it down with other organic matter. This means that it must be added to your compost pile and aged before being added to your plants. 

If you compost already then you’ll know to weekly turn your pile, however, the type of compost method you use is important. Although there are a number of open-air compost options, chicken manure will need to be covered from the elements to age properly. To ensure that pathogens are broken down properly, we suggest using a hot composting system. Chicken manure should be added all at once and not continuously throughout the composting cycle as you collect more. By 6 weeks the compost will be fluffier and ready to apply to your plants. Another way to ensure its readiness is by smell. A ready compost should smell earthy, with a clear absence of the common ammonia scent. 

It is noted however that harvest dates must be taken into account when adding this fertilizer mix. If harvesting ground touching plants, make sure to harvest at least 4 months later, for non-ground touching plants, 3 months. 

Note:

We recommend leaving natural dirt on the bottom of your coop to allow for poop to decompose naturally. If you plan to compost, then adding a thin layer of organic matter, such as pine shavings, will help start a nice base for compost transferring later on. 

We hope you found these tips helpful for your backyard farming journey. Have questions or comments regarding anything mentioned in this blog post? Please feel free to email us at support@roostandroot.com or give us a call at 877-741-2667.