I love compost. That rich, dark, soil-amending wonder. My only problem? I suck at composting. I know people who toss all their scraps in a bin and magically have a bin of that glorious richness waiting for them some time later.
I have smelly, rotting, moldy food scraps surrounded by flies.
I’ve read all the “how-to compost” blog articles and books, which is usually followed by the thought of, “But that’s so much work! I just want to toss it in and forget about it.”
Then I got chickens. So I started a “cleaned-out-the-coop-chicken-bedding” compost pile. Whenever I let the girls out of their run to free-range, that’s the first place they head. My first thought about that? “Ew, you’re not supposed to like that. You’re supposed to be eating all the weeds and bugs out of the garden!”
Then I heard about letting your chickens do your composting for you. Say what??!?!? Why was I not told about this glorious plan? Why is this not in every “How to raise chickens” book? AND it’ll save me $$$ on chicken feed? Yes please!
Northwest Edible Life wrote a great article about the whole idea. Nice to know I’m not the only “crappy composter” out there.
“My chickens are master composters. Seriously, if they could just find a way to drive to Master Composter Certification they could totally teach that class. (Except they’d eat all the red wiggler worms, but whatever.) Chickens are aerating, nitrogen-pooping, humus-creation machines. I have permanently off-loaded nearly all my composting duties to the hens, and I’m never going back.”
Read the full article HERE.
Wait… what about all that stuff you’re not supposed to feed chickens? What can I toss in this compost pile and not get a coop full of dead chickens?
I decided to not toss my homemade composting trashcan quite yet (but I am going to do some “fixing” to it). There are few things I won’t be chucking into the chicken run. I printed out a list to hang on the fridge, “Compost Bin AKA Don’t Feed These to the Girls.” (Print out your FREE copy below!)
Compost Bin AKA Don’t Feed This to the Girls
Apple seeds (or at least, not a lot of them. Apple seeds contain trace amounts of arsenic. With that said, I’m not too terribly worried if they get their claws on a core or two.)
Avocado skins or pits
Citrus (Can potentially cause issues, but it seems like most chickens don’t like it anyways)
Coffee grounds or Tea
Dry beans (cooked are okay)
Green potatoes and plants
Onions (Again, at least not a lot. Small amounts are okay.)
Raw eggs or uncrushed egg shells (I don’t want any egg eating cannibals! Any shells the girls get, which are a great source of calcium, I’ll grind up fine.)
Rhubarb stalks or leaves
Some flower seeds, such as sweet peas and morning glories
There are other foods that you shouldn’t feed chickens too, but as I wouldn’t put them in the compost anyways (aka chocolate, salty food, etc.), I didn’t include them on the list. Backyardchickens.com has a great full list of foods that are great for treats and foods to avoid HERE. Another good list is over HERE at Fresh-eggs-daily.com.
Now that I have my list, I do believe I’m going to gather up a big pile of mulch (leaves, grass, and perhaps a bundle of straw), along with removed coop bedding, and dump it and my chicken-friendly compost into the run and let the girls go to town! My very own composting chicken machine! Not only will it give them something to munch on, they’ll be adding their own “contributions” and turning the pile for me. I can’t wait to amend my garden soil with this richness this spring!
Don’t forget to print out your own list! Download your FREE printable here!