We Really Need To Cleanup the Hen House


Mountain Sage
Jul 11, 2008
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Mountains of WV
I think we’re halfway to that point. Last year with fewer chickens, we had a fairly deep litter with shavings in the coop. However, the number of chickens has increased during the past few months. Last year’s shavings have just disappeared.

After cleaning, we put new shavings down, and will add them regularly.

My guess is that the litter moved to the compost is partially ready for garden use. I don’t think it will need the full six months of composting.

We’ll let the chicken litter stay in the compost pile (turned sometimes) for a while because we still have a bag and a half of organic granulated commercial fertilizer purchased back in May.

After we use the purchased granules up, I aim to go with composted chicken litter for our future fertilizer needs.

Along with broody hens, it’s one more step toward garden regeneration and putting more nutrients in the soil than are removed.

You can get a better compost rate and completion if you avoid using pine shavings as the bulk of your litter....I started out with pine shavings many moons ago but it didn't take me long to find out they are not optimal for composting. Takes a long time for them to compost and produces a good bit of ammonia along the way...also required more clean outs and wait time for complete composting before applying to the garden.

It will also save you some money if you mix it up a little. Like Bay, I garner a lot of free leaves each fall from the local town and store them for bedding. I also put all my garden clean out in the coop, twigs and branches, corn shucks and stalks, bark, kitchen scraps, etc. Things of different particle sizes and density creates air pockets within the mass that promote better composting and also helps the carbon bind with the nitrogen quicker.

Deep pine shavings are more or less a very large diaper that holds a lot of moisture and smells and has to be changed when it's overly saturated, whereas a composting deep litter comprised of a variety of materials has no smells, no flies, generates heat in the winter time and provides a great habitat for bugs and microbial life that can help speed the composting process while also improving the health of the flock. Also takes minimal maintenance, particularly with a soil floor.

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