To increase yield, you must feed your plants with quality fertilizers. Homemade fertilizers aren’t just cost effective but are free from chemical substances. In this detailed write-up, you’ll learn to compost chicken manure in just 18 days.
Cold composting is known as the most common chicken manure composting method. In this method, you have to place a wide range of organic materials in a spacious composting bin, a large heap, or some other enclosure. And you will have to leave it aside for a few months until it breaks down properly. Cold compost is a very slow process and takes as many as 6 to 12 months.
Hot compost is another approach, which takes rather less time for composting. And numerous benefits are associated with it, including killing pathogens and weed seeds along the way. The process breaks down the material into a perfectly fine compost.
In contrast, the cold compass is not known for destroying seeds, so if you go for this approach, there are very high chances of weed seeds growing, especially if you plan to use it in a garden. Cold compost doesn’t help you with destroying pathogens either. If you use compost with diseased plants, they can spread the diseases(s) all around the garden. So, with hot composting method you can make your chicken manure at home.
Here, we discuss one of the most popular hot compost methods – the Berkeley method introduced by the University of California, Berkley. The whole method is fast, effective, very affordable, and needs high temperatures. It will take only 18 days for composting – that’s all!
Also Read: How to Use Epsom Salt for Tomato Plant?
Let’s know about the requirements for hot composting through the Berkley method
- The average compost temperature should be maintained between 54-66 degrees Celsius.
- The carbon-nitrogen ratio should be balanced i.e., approx. 25-20:1.
- The height of the compost heap should be 1.5m high and 1m x 1m wide.
- If the carbon component such as tree branches are high in compost, ensure breaking them properly with a mulcher.
- Mix the compost thoroughly from inside to outside and vice versa.
Here is the best way to compost chicken manure using the Berkley method to get the desired results
- Build the heap according to the size and height mentioned above.
- Leave the heap for four days without turning.
- Then keep turning every second day for two weeks.
Also Read: Can I Put Old Potting Soil in My Compost?
Importance of carbon-nitrogen balance and other composting materials
For composting through the Berkley method, you will have to add one part of nitrogen by weight to every 25 to 30 parts of carbon. Because the bacteria maintaining the composting process’s pace needs the recommended proportion of these two elements for proper reproduction and multiplication of their bodies.
Brown materials like cardboard, straw, dried leaves, branches, sawdust, and other fibrous or woody materials that don’t get rotten very quickly and easily are usually high in carbon.
In contrast, green and moist materials like grass/lawn cuttings, vegetables and fruits scraps, green leafy materials, animal manure, etc. are great nitrogen sources and get rotten pretty quickly.
You must have to take care of the right carbon-nitrogen ratio. Berkley method is both aerobic and hot and doesn’t reduce the compost volume even at the end of the process. And in the cold compost method, the entire volume gets reduced very dramatically.
Most of the composting efforts get derailed due to improper ratio 25-30:1. If you are following the Berkley method, you need to quickly identify the materials that decompose in a quick time. Then you can also use a mix of materials that rot quickly and materials that take a lot of time. It will help you to maintain balance while composting.
- Composting materials having a C: N ratio of 480-500:1 decompose in a long time due to lack of nitrogen, and there are materials like tree branches for breaking down.
- Materials with C: N ratio of 7:1 won’t take much time to rotten because the amount of nitrogen is high. Rotten fish is the perfect example with C: N ratio of 7:1.
What did we learn with these two points?
If you know how you can compost chicken manure with a few smart tricks, things will get easier for you. Two facts mentioned above are for you to get smarter!
For example, if the C: N ratio is lower than expected, you can add materials like dry leaves, wood chips, cardboard, and sawdust, etc. to raise the ratio. And for instance, if the C: N ratio is very high, you can add grass clippings or manure to reduce it down to average.
Let’s understand the game of the C: N ratio in more detail
You can understand the importance of C: N ratio by pointing out that all the plants have an abundance of carbon in comparison to nitrogen (because, of course, they continuously get the carbon from CO2 in the air), and that’s why the C: N ratio in plants is always over 1:0.
Here are a few common organic materials with average C: N ratios to help you find answers to “how much composted chicken manure to use.”
- Materials with a high amount of nitrogen are indicated as “green.”
- Materials with a high amount of carbon are indicated as “brown.”
GREENS = Low carbon
BROWNS = High carbon
By this we can conclude that you can hot compost anything that was once living. Almost everything, including strange additions of cotton and wool clothing, leather boots, bones, even the left-overs of road accidents like dead animals, and their body parts can be hot composed – but you need to keep them in the very center of the heap for the proper breakdown.
You won’t find even a trace of original products at the end of the process. Always keep in mind that the greater the variety of products, the higher are the chances of getting good compost because you will get various types of nutrients with the final product.
NOTE: If you are confused about how to compost chicken manure by following correct ratios, here is a trick for you – You can simplify the process of addition by using 1/3 of nitrogen-containing greens and 2/3 of dry carbon-containing browns. To make it even simple, if you are using a single container for measurement, add one container of materials rich in nitrogen to every two materials rich in carbon.
If you want quick results, try using 1//3 manure and 2/3 carbon materials. It will give you great results. Keep piling the alternating thin layers of browns and greens until you get a compost heat of one-meter square and a little bit taller than that. It is not practically possible to follow the accuracy of mathematics in the C: N ratio. You will have to try until you get a real and practical idea of how long it takes to compost chicken manure.
Hot composting – day by day, step by step guide
- Mix all the ingredients properly by placing the thin alternating layers of “browns” and greens.”
- Wet compost doesn’t take a lot of time to heap down, and hence you may find a few drops of water dripping out of the bottom.
- You can also add a few “activators” to speed up the process. Activators like dead animals, fish, nettles, comfrey, old compost, and urine, etc. are quite effective.
- Turn the heap upside down, turn the outer part to the inside, and vice versa. To make it a bit easier, remove the outer part of the pile to a nearby spot and move the material from outside to the new pile. Keep repeating it until the inside material gets outside and vice versa.
- Always ensure constant moisture inside as well as outside the pile. Use a pair of hand gloves, take a handful of compost materials, squeeze them, and you will notice only one or two drops of water.
- If there is excessive moisture, try spreading it around or use the handle of the pitchfork to open a 3 to the 4-inch-wide hole for proper drainage.
Day 7 and Day 9
You are about to reach the mid-part of your journey to understand perfectly “how long to compost chicken manure.” Now, the compost should attain maximum temperature. But, if you try to check the temperature using your hand(s), you won’t get any indication. You can easily find a commercial cake thermometer or compost thermometer in the market.
The optimum temperature for proper composting is 54-64 degrees Celsius (130-148) degrees Fahrenheit. Suppose the temperature reaches beyond 65 degrees (149 degrees Fahrenheit) mark. In that case, you will start noticing a white “mold” spreading all over the compost, which is usually due to rection from anaerobic thermophilic composting bacteria, sometimes incorrectly called as “fire blight.” It will start disappearing from the surface if the temperature is down.
The temperature touches the peak value at 6 to 8 days and gradually reduces by the 18th day.
- If the size of the compost pile reduces quickly, there is excessive nitrogen.
- You can increase the temperature of compost quickly by adding a handful of bone fertilizer every pitchfork.
- If the temperature increases too much and the pile starts smelling foul, there is too much nitrogen. Add a handful of sawdust per pitchfork while turning the pile inside out.
- Don’t allow children roaming around the pile, because methane continuously releases during composting using the Berkley method.
Day 11 to Day 17
Keep the compost turning every two days.
Here is the answer to “how long to compost chicken manure”! Warm, good-smelling, dark brown compost!
If you notice earthworms’ movement in and around the compost, you should know that your compost is ready. It’s cooled down and is full of nutrients!
How to make compost tea with chicken manure?
Ingredients and tools
- 24 liters of water for every 2.5 kgs of compost or chicken manure
- Spade of shovel
- Old pillowcase or cloth bag
- Face mask
- A very large bucket
Steps to follow
- Get complete protection by wearing a face mask and gloves. Take a large bucket, and find a place for brewing where children and animals can’t reach easily.
- Transfer the manure into a large old cloth bag or a pillowcase and close the ends as quickly as possible.
- Fill enough water in the bucket – ideally, you should use 24 liters of water for manure every 2.5 kgs. But it won’t make a lot of difference if you don’t follow this ratio accurately.
- Keep the mixture aside for steeping for 2 to 3 days.
- Keep the mixture mixing at least twice a day. This will ensure proper oxygen supply to every part of the mixture, and that’s the ultimate benefit of brewing.
- Remove the cloth bag/pillowcase after 2 to 3 days and transfer the remaining manure into the compost.
Important points on how can you compost chicken manure perfectly:
- To protect your compost from excessive rain or too much rain, keep the heap in an area exposed to mild sunlight and is completely protected from the rain.
- An ideal chicken compost heat requires space of 1.5×1.5 meters, and there must be decent enough space for comfortable standing.
- Provide a little amount of water constantly until there is moisture in a heap. Start turning over the heap from the fourth day to ensure proper air supply and keep turning every second day until your compost is ready to use. It will usually take 15 to 21 days – then the 18th day is usually considered the “final” day.
- Constant aeration and turning are the secrets of productive composting.
- Always use a long-handled pitchfork or a garden fork for turning compost piles properly.
- During a rainy or wet damp weather, try covering the compost pile completely with a plastic sheet or tarp. It will help you to protect the compost from excessive water or dampness.
That’s all about our guide on how to compost chicken manure. You can use freshly made compost to improve the soil for gardening or even farming. You will notice some very surprising results. Hopefully, this guide was enough to burst all the doubts related to composting.