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We have a few chickens. They produce a small but steady supply of manure. As I understand it chicken manure is an excellent fertiliser. What's the optimum way to utilise it in the garden?

Is it best to add the chicken manure to our general compost or is there a particular part of the garden where its application is especially valuable in concentrated form?

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Chicken manure is a "hot", high nitrogen fertilizer. Applied directly to plants it can burn them.

I find that a mix of chicken manure, horse manure, and bedding, allowed to rot for a year or so makes a great garden amendment. (Or if you turn it a few times it is ready in about six months.)

Another good way to use chicken manure is to add it to the general garden compost -- especially in the fall when the compost pile has a lot of "browns" (leaves, woody garden waste, etc). If you build a pile in the fall when you do your garden cleanup, make layers of browns, then chicken manure, a sprinkling of garden soil, soak well, then repeat. (You can alternate garden greens with the manure if you have extra greens and/or not enough manure.) The manure adds the nitrogen the pile needs to cook down quickly.

In the spring you might be able to get away with less-well-rotted chicken manure if you work it in a couple of weeks prior to planting, but I basically use the two methods above and capture the nitrogen from the chickens in my compost piles.

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    bstpierre's advice is very sound, but should you be tempted to use it fresh, rather than composted, it's worth bearing in mind that fresh chicken manure is pretty alkaline (pH 6.5-8) and therefore not suitable for fertilizing ericaceous plants. – Mancuniensis Aug 21 '11 at 14:39
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Our chickens roam the yard so the yard gets some poop. The more concentrated stuff (from the nest box and house/coop area) drops onto straw bedding. We collect the bedding and put it in a compost pile.

Generally then we spread that compost once or twice a year in our garden beds. (Spring before planting and then after harvest)

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