Ask a Question forum: Does anyone here have backyard chickens?

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Michigan (Zone 5b)
Keeper of Poultry
Apr 13, 2016 8:26 AM CST
My chicken bedding works better as a weed suppressor than a fertilizer. This bums me out because I have tried planting watermelon the 1st year with it and nothing grew. Then I tried corn after 1 year of it being in the garden - again nothing grew. I use shaved pine bedding in my coop. Any ideas on how to decompose the bedding faster for plants to grow?

Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Apr 13, 2016 10:20 AM CST
Don't know if I'm much help but I got some shaved pine chicken bedding from DD (also in MI) last year. It had been stored in plastic garbage bags for several months before I had the chance to get it and spread it out on the garden last fall. About a month ago, I did a remineralization thing with my main veggie-growing bed (it's a small space with half annuals/perennials/shrubs and half veg). About half of the shavings got mixed into the soil with the minerals. It is early to check for any problems since I just planted peas, carrots and radishes. Could your shavings be too thick, perhaps concentrating the benefits too much? Did you pull the shavings back to expose bare dirt for sowing seed? Perhaps leaving the shavings pulled back until germination occurs would be a help?
Michigan (Zone 5b)
Keeper of Poultry
Apr 13, 2016 10:32 AM CST
I had spread the shavings across the surface only the first year. The second year I tilled them in. Maybe bagging them would speed up the decomp? Please let me know if your having luck. I will try that if so. Thanks
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Apr 13, 2016 11:11 AM CST
When I did take the shavings out of the bag, it didn't seem like they had decomposed all that much but that might not mean much.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
Apr 13, 2016 11:21 AM CST
Here is something you might try; I learned it from PlantSister in Thailand. Save the plastic bags from the litter, mulch, potting soil, etc. Or check with local restaurants to re-purpose rice bags; those work really good. Fill each bag with your used chicken litter but mix it with weeds, grass clippings, dry leaves, etc. You can toss in a handful of soil if you like. Remember to poke several holes in the bottom of the bag, add a small amount of water to dampen the mixture, close the top of the bag (or leave opened), set the bag in the shade of a tree (or leave it in the sun) and wait.
Thumb of 2016-04-13/greene/424b17

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Apr 13, 2016 11:47 AM CST
I don't have chickens anymore but when I did, the pine shavings (I used the bails sold at the feed store for horse paddocks) and coop litter went into the compost pile with kitchen scraps, egg shells, grass clippings...

I had two compost piles and added to one for a year then added to the other the following year. The pile I wasn't adding to sat and decomposed for a year. Both piles were turned and watered. The shavings toned down the chicken droppings enough so I didn't burn down my compost pile. Smiling You can't use un-aged chicken residue on your garden - it takes a year to mellow and that gives the pine shavings the chance to decompose.

At the end of each year, I had the most fantastic soil you have ever seen. But it was a 2 year process to get it to that point.

Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Apr 13, 2016 12:20 PM CST
I think the pine shavings are more likely to be the problem than the chicken manure. I use coop cleanings around my plants all the time, not in the soil, but on top. My chickens have sawdust not shavings in their coops and the cleanings are about 3/4 poop to 1/4 wood. I allow the mix to compost in place on top of the soil. However I would not recommend it for germinating seeds. High nitrogen will possibly deter germination.
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Apr 13, 2016 1:59 PM CST
Another other factor to consider: it is a really big dog attractant, can't tell you how many times my dog has rolled in the fresh cleanings then shared her lovely perfume with me!
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Apr 13, 2016 3:19 PM CST
I don't till any wood products into the soil any more, since doing that in one bed made it non-productive for most of a year, and digging down revealed a gross mess of awful-looking fungus.

That was a woody "soil amendment" called "Soil Pep". It was the cheapest "amendment" that HD had, but NOT worth it, even at half the price.

If they had marketed it instead as "ugly, expensive mulch", I would have agreed.

I agree with ideas like using it only for top-dressing (sheet composting on the surface) , or, better, composting it first in a heap.

... well, unless pine bark fines are "wood products". I will fork shredded bark into my amended clay. Bark breaks down slower than wood, and contains more N, so it doesn't create the Nitrogen deficit that wood does.

Michigan (Zone 5b)
Keeper of Poultry
Apr 14, 2016 8:22 AM CST
Thanks everyone. I definitely put them in the garden too soon. 3rd year's a charm Smiling

I use the deep bedding method in the winter time (just layer fresh pine shavings over old until spring). It works best this way here because the lower layers freeze. Also helps to insulate the pen during the colder months. I am getting ready to empty out the coop soon because its finally warming up now. I will set them aside to compost this year.

Thank You!

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