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Chicken manure is an excellent fertilizer for gardens large and small. It is rich in nutrients that improve the health of your plants. In fact, it’s often called “black gold” by gardeners because of its ability to give plants a significant boost.
However, selecting the right type of chicken manure is essential, as is applying it correctly. We will look at the different types of poultry manure and how to age it for best results. We will also see how and when to apply it in your garden.
Let’s get straight to the point!
Chicken or poultry manure
Chicken manure is a organic fertilizer from chickens. It is generally high in nitrogen and other nutrients, making it an effective fertilizer for gardens, yards, and crops. According to one estimate, the level of nitrogen and phosphorus in chicken manure is twice that of other farmyard manures.
Indeed, it has become a popular fertilizer for home gardens and commercial farms because it can improve plant growth and yields.
Poultry manure is also relatively easy to obtain, given the ubiquity of chickens in most places. However, chicken manure can also contain harmful bacteria and you should use it with caution.
Although it has a wide range of uses, chicken manure poses environmental problems if not properly managed.
It releases methane as it decomposes, a potent greenhouse gas. Therefore, chicken farmers must avoid methane emissions from their farms. One way to do this is to collect the manure in anaerobic digesters, which break down the manure without emitting methane into the atmosphere.
When properly used, chicken manure is guaranteed to improve the health of your plants.
Types of chicken manure
There are two main types of poultry manure: fresh and aged. Fresh chicken manure is high in nitrogen and ammonia and can burn plants if not used properly. Aged chicken manure contains less nitrogen but still contains other essential nutrients.
When using chicken manure as a fertilizer, selecting the right type for your plants is essential.
If you plan to use fresh chicken manure, compost or age it first. This reduces the amount of ammonia and makes it safer for your plants. You can apply aged chicken manure directly to your garden if you plan to use aged chicken manure.
Knowing how much chicken manure to use is also essential. Too much can damage your plants. Use a small amount then increase as your plants get used to it.
Bagged poultry manure
Chicken manure usually comes in bags that you can buy at the store. This commercially processed variety has been dried and pulverized or granulated. Dry manure is more concentrated than fresh chicken manure, which is over 75% water.
Dried poultry manure is generally sterilized and odorless, unlike fresh manure, which stinks and can contain harmful pathogens such as Salmonella and E.Coli.
Before applying it to your garden, you must first age or compost fresh manure from the hens.
How to Age Poultry Manure
Aging poultry manure destroys harmful pathogens and reduces ammonia content, making it safer for you and your garden.
There are two ways to do this.
First, you can just leave the manure in a pile and let it decompose over time. However, this process takes several months; you may want to plan ahead.
The second, easier way is to compost the manure in a pile. The process is faster and produces a better and safer fertilizer.
How? Most pathogens stop reproducing at 140-160 degrees Fahrenheit (60-70 degrees Celsius). This temperature is easily reached inside a compost heap.
Mix chicken manure with other organic materials such as leaves or grass clippings to compost chicken manure. The ratio of manure to other materials should be about one-third chicken manure to two-thirds other.
Turn the compost pile regularly to introduce oxygen and speed up decomposition. By the fifth or sixth week, your chicken manure should be drier, lighter and more compact. When applied to your garden, the nutrients have stabilized enough to provide a slow release.
Keep the compost pile away from your garden and other high traffic areas to avoid odors and contamination from runoff. You should also consider protecting your pile from the elements as they could introduce more moisture into the pile.
Spreading chicken manure: how and when
Chicken manure can be applied in two ways: as a side dressing or as a compost tea.
side dressing this is when manure is applied directly to the soil around the base of plants. This method is best for established plants that are already growing well. For young plants or seedlings, try a compost tea.
compost tea is made by soaking chicken manure in water, which then leaches out the nutrients. The tea is then sprinkled over the soil, providing a gentle dose of nutrients that won’t harm young plants.
Bagged or composted chicken manure
The type of chicken manure determines its application.
You can apply bagged manure at any time. Trees, shrubs and other conifers are usually fertilized in the spring. Flowers and vegetables are also fertilized in the spring and often during the growing season. Read the manure label for specific amounts.
In contrast, you should only apply composted manure at least 90-120 days before harvest for non-soil contact plants (tomatoes, beans) and soil contact plants (strawberries, root vegetables), respectively.
This corresponds to the end of winter or the beginning of spring for most places. Forty-five pounds of aged compost manure is enough for at least 100 square feet. Always wear gloves when handling chicken manure and mix it evenly into the soil.
Advantages and disadvantages of chicken manure
Poultry litter is an excellent source of nutrients for plants. It is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, essential for plant growth.
Poultry manure also contains a variety of other minerals that improve soil health. The high organic matter content of chicken manure helps improve soil aeration and drainage, while the low salt content prevents the soil from becoming waterlogged.
It is relatively easy to obtain and can be used fresh or composted. It breaks down quickly in the soil, releasing its nutrients within weeks.
That said, chicken litter can also be stinky and contain high levels of ammonia and harmful pathogens. Compost it properly before using it in your garden; otherwise, you run the risk of overwhelming your plants with too much ammonia.
Using chicken manure as a fertilizer is a great way to give your plants the nutrients they need to thrive. Just make sure to compost it properly first!
What are your experiences using poultry manure as fertilizer in your garden? Please share in the comments section below.
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