Saturday, November 12, 2011

What to do with all the poo?


Well it seems we have FINALLY secured the steer lot and for the past two days we haven't had any more escapees. Though with chickens, I wouldn't be surprised to come home one day and see more out wondering in the yard. As any caring parent, I would love for the chickens to be "free-range" (though NOT for "green"/PETA reasons), but chickens are destructive critters and my poor flowers and the beds paid for it. Plus I was tired of sweeping their poo off the sidewalk.

Which leads me to the topic of today's of my personal favorite subjects of all time....POOP!! I am so proud of myself for the way I have masterfully developed a system to control the poo in my coop and keep it fairly clean. The picture above is an old feed trough and is used as the chickies roost. It works great as a poop collector, since it falls into the trough and not on the ground. I placed it right below the ledge the chickens roost on in the coop at night. About once a week I go in with a shovel (no judgements here) and scoop the poop from the ledge and also out of the feed trough and save it in a large container. When the container gets full, I take it to my garden and spread it around. Those beans and corn are gonna taste great next summer!

I did some research online and found this cool article with lots of good info. I'll share some of it here. The article is called "Manure Matters: How Manures Measure Up" by Marion Owen. I found it at

First of all, never, ever use human, cat or dog poo, since poo from meat-eating animals risks the threat of parasites and disease. (Though from my experience, chickens can be considered meat-eaters since they like dead rats and birds...) Also, poo with straw and/or sawdust has a different nitrogen composition than just straight old poo.

Chicken poo is the richest poo for nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash. It's considered "hot" and should be composted for 6 months before being added to a garden. If added "hot", it can burn up plants. I learned that dairy cow poo is preferable to steer poo. Steer poo has a higher salt and weed seed content. (Sorry Chuck and Big looks as if your only purpose in life is to end up nice and juicy on our dinner plates...) Horse poo is half as rich as chicken poo, but richer in nitrogen than cow poo. It's also a "hot" poo and needs to be composted. All poo should age for 6 months, or you can be like most of us farmers and spread the poo on the soil in the fall and turn it into the ground in the spring. 75 to 90 percent of plant nutrients fed to animals is excreted in their poo.

Pasteurizing poo??? Hot, composting poo should reach a temperature of 150 degrees F to reduce the chance of passing pathogens to people.

We all know that sanitation and poo control is important if you have animals of any kind...or a lot of kids. If you have animals, minus dogs or cats, and you have a garden that you grow your food in, it's a pretty logical decision to re-use the poo as fertilizer. I'm not sure the chickens can poo enough in the coop to get me enough fertilizer to cover all of my garden by spring. The re-enforcements are coming though, and Jimmy and Charlie will take up any slack in that department.

I know a lot of people don't like to acknowledge it, but poo is a part of life.

Happy constitutions to you all!!!

                                                                                    ...cluck... cluck... cluck... cluck......

Owen, Marion. "Manure Matters: How Manures Measure Up." 1998. 12 Nov. 2011.


  1. I do so love learning about poo. Cluck cluck!

  2. Wow. Love this post. Very informative. I never would've thought to add chicken poo to my garden. Thanks for the tips bec. Maybe someday I'll have enough space to raise your cluckies some cousins!