Chicken Guano: Top-Notch Fertilizer
This short excerpt on chicken guano came from the pages of Keep Chickens! by Barbara Kilarski.
“Whoever thought I’d be singing the praises of chicken poop? I am, and I’m not the only one. Chickens are walking nitrogen-rich manure bins. The Girl’s manure is the envy of my gardening friends. When I fluff up the Girl’s coop, I take generous amounts of chicken guano and straw from beneath their sleeping perch and put it right in the compost bin. I store my leftover guano straw in extra trash cans that my friends line up for and haul away for their own compost bins. Nitrogen is an essential ingredient in great compost, and chickens are just full of it!
In the winter, I throw the guano-laced straw right on top of the fallow vegetable gardens. Then I let the Girls out into the yard, and they beeline right for the vegetable patches, where they spend glorious hours searching for bugs in the soft soil and digging compost materials deep into the dirt.
Some chicken keepers put their flock in a small mobile pen to create a moveable compost bin. They move the pen in the yard every few weeks, bringing it to areas where the soil needs to be worked and amended. The chickens till their own nitrogen-rich guano into the soil of the pen, fertilizing the land directly underneath their living quarters. These types of pens are best suited to larger yards that can accommodate a roving 3′ x 4′ x 2′ (91 x 122 x 61 cm) structure.
Chickens are natural partners in a complete home recycling program. Since I’ve had chickens, no leftover fruit, vegetables, or breads go to waste. Instead, the Girls get it all, which delights them from the tops of their rough combs to the tips of their sharp toes. Besides, all those lovely, fibrous scraps just make them poop more, which gives me more guano to put in the compost bin. Feeding kitchen scraps and leftovers to a flock of city chickens is a win-win event.”