Like everything around this farm this idea is a moving wheel. As always I offer you my ideas and notes along with what is working.
I work a lot, I have a more than full-time job and a farm so streamlining is a constant motivation, along with what is just plain doable and not doable for me. Plus this farm has a deadline of carrying it’s own weight completely by the time I walk away from my secure job and work the farm full time.
The latest and greatest? Two words CHICKEN COMPOST
Ok So if you spend five minutes watching chickens you will learn they love to dig and scratch around for goodies. This has come in handy for me already because the girls help spread manure around the pasture when I am behind on pickup. This is most of my life it seems.
I read about so many others successes with this and honestly it fit a need for us. We had butchered the hogs and aren’t getting any until spring. The girls have been getting scraps and things anyway. The need for compost is constant and the time to turn it is small.
So I built a 2 pellet x 2 pellet bin and started.
First I put a whole pale of rotten hey which the girls promptly spread all over the place, mostly on the outside of the pen.
Next added scrap boards around the bottom and this happen…some.
So I added mesh around the pen and cut out holes for them to jump in and out. This works pretty good
Then I simply add their scraps of whatever comes out of the kitchen everyday. Meat, egg shells, anything.
Yes I know most people don’t do the shell thing but I have not had any issues (yet) with egg eaters. If I do in the future I may change this but I have a tend to not fix things until broken.
Also must people say not to put meat in a compost pile but the birds eat most of it and the bones with simply break down over time. They will take longer but when you take out the compost to ‘cook off’ just throw any bones back in.
I take issue with the logic of not feeding chickens moldy food. If your chickens are in a confined coop or dirt yard then maybe don’t do it but if your girls are on pasture picking at manure and drinking ground water in clean untreated grass then they are strong and have an immune system that can handle it. Also if they live this way and are still healthy and alive they are probably smart enough to not eat what is harmful.
The pile is working awesome so far and is braking down way faster than I have ever seen. At this rate I will have all I need come spring.
Also a couple of weeks for you are planning on using it you should still cook it off. Take out what it broken down and at a nice soft dark brown. Pile it up at least 3’x3′ and keep rain off of it. Turn every couple of days to make sure it all gets time in the center. The center should be very hot. At least 130F. This will kill any seeds and things lurking around. The final product should be very dark to black and smell like dirt or moss.
If you aren’t getting the temps add more brown things like hey, dead grass, leaves
Make sure it stays moist
Update: June 1 2017,
This is a picture once the coop and all but two pallets are removed in early spring. The pallets are left to support and shade field peas I planted. Down here even in early spring it can get too hot for peas to have full sun.
The garden is awesome!
I didn’t cook off the compost at the end enough so foods I threw in the compost sprouted up. Right now I am getting heaps of cherry tomatoes a day. There is a good amount of canning tomatoes ripening too.
As you can see in this picture as of May. The tomatoes are loving life!
We had an unusual drought the whole first quarter of this year and that slowed everything. But, the second the rains came back the garden went nuts. Sunflowers blooming, tomatoes everywhere, carrots. Corn that sat still for months at 3 inches high now is growing 3 inches a days it seems.
As with everything there is room to improve and I am updating it again. I am now building a permanent compost building. I will hopefully do a post on it later once done. The compost will no longer be attached to the coop so I can more easily move the coop. I think that moving it regular is a healthy choice and helps eliminate the need to de-worm and kill mites. Also, I want to be able to dump the compost where I want to keep adding to the garden. As I add the old area will be pushed out of the electric netting and be recycled by the herd (horses, sheep, pigs and chickens). I was inspired by The Chicken Tractor by Marcin Jakubowski. Please look at the Youtube video as it is awesome!