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Old 03/26/11, 11:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 73
Chicken bedding as mulch?

I use the fine flake pine bedding from Tractor Supply Company for my chicken coop. When I rake it out, it has lots of dried chicken poop in it. Is it safe to use as a mulch for my vegetable garden? I know the poop is good, what I am asking about is the pine flakes????
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Old 03/27/11, 02:21 AM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Central Oregon
Posts: 6,327
Yes, they are fine. I'd pile it up and let it age for a bit before I put it on the garden.
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Old 03/27/11, 02:43 AM
Nature_Lover's Avatar  
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Missouri
Posts: 596
Chicken litter is a hot fertilizer, and MUST be composted before using it to mulch a garden.

You asked about using it as mulch, which means top dressing? I'd compost it for a summer before top dressing with it, or at least compost it for a few months before turning it in to your garden soil.
If you don't, the plants will burn off at the soil line as the waste breaks down.

Pine shaving are safe, it's the poop you need to worry about.
Dogs have masters, cats have staff.
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Old 03/27/11, 08:20 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 10,563
Originally Posted by Nature_Lover View Post

Pine shaving are safe, it's the poop you need to worry about.

I use the same bedding for my chickens and it, along with leaves, used coffee grounds, sundry garden waste and grass clippings makes some gorgeous compost.

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Old 03/27/11, 09:18 AM
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,395
I use a deep litter method that composts as they go. When I want some as dressing or mulch, I dig from the bottom and get the oldest litter. Works great.

I don't buy the litter--just use what's on hand, leaves, junk mail, straw--whatever is free!
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Old 03/27/11, 02:05 PM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 5,872
Two points: pine shavings will take nitrogen from the soil or the chicken droppings during the composting process, then return it somewhat, so it probably should be used as a compost. If you are raking out your coop and just piling it up, you will be losing large quantities of valuable nitrogen in the form of ammonia; best to compost it covered or mixed with soil on top until the ammonia turns to nitrate form of nitrogen. You'll be doing the same by spreading it as a mulch.

One more thing to consider is e. Coli and other nasty things--I wouldn't put it on my plants if what I eat is going to come into direct contact with it, at least not in its raw form.

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Old 03/27/11, 06:19 PM
COSunflower's Avatar
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Oregon
Posts: 3,395
I have a little old apple tree right next to my little chicken coop and twice a year I rake my chicken bedding out and spread it on the ground all around it. It normally is LOADED with apples and it is almost 40 years old plus the goats have eaten most of the bottom bark off over the years even though I've wrapped it in wire NUMEROUS times.

Eternal Optimist
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Old 03/27/11, 10:54 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 73
okay, so I will just put it in my compst pile along with garden waste, kitchen scraps and leaves and wait until at least the fall to use it. I have old bedding in a compost pile, from at least 6 months ago. I am assuming I can use that??
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Old 03/27/11, 11:20 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: central, mn
Posts: 2,906
i put some right in my garden and tilled it in last year--my squashes did great. i didnt use alot though. i think a few wheel barrows full.
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Old 03/28/11, 12:23 AM
Judy in IN's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,533
I cleaned out my hen house 3 times last Spring and put it directly on the new garden, along with Azomite & gypsum. I had okra with stalks as big as my wrists. Nothing in the garden burned off, but it was clay to start with.

Now THIS Spring that same plot is soft, with lots of tilth. The tiller sank down to maximum depth with no problem. I use old hay for bedding, though- not shavings. You could add bonemeal to supply nitrogen.
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Old 03/28/11, 11:49 AM
olivehill's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Michigan
Posts: 3,259
We too have and do put it directly in the garden without issue.
I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. - E.B. White
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