By Jolene Renfro
One aspect of raising chickens that is sometimes overlooked is the gift that keeps on giving - chicken poo, the by-product of chickens eating and growing. After all, what goes in eventually comes out, but in an improved form – at least from a gardener’s perspective.
Added to your garden, chicken manure supplies 1.8 % Nitrogen, 1.5 % Phosphorus, and 1.5% Potash. Just one hen will produce forty-five pounds of this highly nutritious material in a year which is enough to fertilize 100 square feet of garden. And it is FREE!
POOP COMPARISON CHART (%)
Ingredient Alpaca Cow Horse Sheep Chicken Rabbit
Nitrogen 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.3 1.8 2.4
Phosphorus .23 .09 .63 .16 1.5 1.4
Potassium 1.06 .42 .92 .37 .8 .6
The one caution is to allow the manure to compost about three weeks before application to your plants because fresh chicken manure is too “hot” (too high in Nitrogen) to apply to young plants for fear of burning them.
If you just cannot wait to use this product your chickens are busy producing, you can make manure tea (and not the drinking kind!) Put the fresh manure into a burlap bag with a rock to weigh it down. Soak this bag of manure in a 35-gallon garbage can filled with water. Pour the “tea” produced at the base of your plants.
Some people complain about the aroma that comes from a garden fertilized with chicken manure, but I think this is all from that particular person’s point of view. I grew up in Pasadena (sometimes called Stinkadena because of the odor of the paper mill and various chemical refineries that blew our way). When people would kid me about the smell, I would reply that if your Dad worked in one of those plants, the odor smelled like bread and butter. The same is true of using chicken poo. When you realize all the nutrition provided to your crops, it doesn’t smell bad at all but smells like Poo Pourri.
Humus soil is 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay plus air, water, decaying plant, and animal matter, and is the best soil for growing plants. It takes about 100 years for nature to make 1-inch of humus, but by adding compost and organic fertilizer to any kind of soil increases the humus content rapidly thus improving soil quality.
Besides providing eggs and fertilizer, my chickens can also predict the weather:
•Feathers fluffed out---Cold
•Feathers damp and drooping---Raining
•Feathers blowing all over the yard---Wind
•Feathers turning from multicolored to white---Snowing
•Feathers shed from the body---Hot
•Feathers with chickens attached, flying through the air in circles---Tornado
I hope all this information is ‘eggzactly’ what you need to get you in the chicken-raising mood.