Image used by permission – Good Life Press
The Chicken Lover’s Cartoon Book by Arnold Wiles
Chicken manure, however, is a sought after fertilizer for organic gardeners. It’s rich in nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), and when combined with straw or similar coop bedding it not only adds nutrients to the soil, but also organic matter. Because of its high nitrogen content, though, it needs to age or compost before it can be used as fertilizer. It’s important to not add fresh or “hot” manure directly to the garden in the spring, otherwise you’ll end up killing or actually burning your plants. Also, some studies have shown that it takes six months to a year before you can ensure that any pathogens are not present in the composted manure. According to this study, conducted by the University of Minnesota, even bin composting (in which the manure is maintained at a temperature between 130 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit for three days) is not a guarantee that all the bacteria has been destroyed.
The safest practice is to either allow the manure to age for the recommended time or incorporate it into the fall garden soil. Better yet, allow the chickens to free range in the garden at the end of the summer harvest. They’ll clean up the leftover plants and weeds, scratch up the soil and leave their powerful “fertilizer” as an added bonus. Then six months later, your spring garden will be ready to go!
Visit my website at …the garden-roof coop.