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Incinerated chickens as soil amendments ???

 
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After reading a post in biochar, I'm left with a question. Actually a few questions...

My neighbor has 3 large breeder chicken houses (fertilized eggs that are hatched and raised in another house). In these chicken houses some of them die from time to time. He is required to incinerate them and he then disposes the waste from the incinerator.My questions are...

1) Is this safe to use as a soil amendment? (any viral or bacterial infections that may have killed the chickens should be killed from the heat) But is there anything either chemically or biologically that may harm my soil/plants?

2) If it is safe, then what benefits to the soil will this do. (I think but may be wrong) this has some use as both ash and as biochar (depending on how "CHARRED" they are) and probably mainly contains potash (K) and calcium (Ca). Is this correct and what other chemicals would it add?

3) IF safe and has use as a soil amendment then what amounts to add (per 100 ft rows) or per acre. (if per 100 ft rows you multiply by 430 to figure per acre (aprox)).

The reason I'm asking is I can't find specific information on this topic on the net. I may be asking the question wrong but after trying it send me to either soil amendments, buying an incinerator, using chicken litter as soil amendments etc, everything BUT what I'm asking... I'm hoping some here know whats in this, if its good or not, and amounts used.
 
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The question is 'how charred is it'?  Get a 'charred chicken' and put it in a bucket of damp dirt for a week (covered).  That should give you some idea of what your dealing with.  If it stinks much after a week, I would treat it like meat.  If it doesn't smell much, I would treat it like a charcoal/ mineral treatment for the soil.  I would definitely get it under mulch or dirt though to help it break apart and down (and lest it offend the sensibilities for the sensitive).
 
C Rogers
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Mick Fisch wrote:The question is 'how charred is it'?  Get a 'charred chicken' and put it in a bucket of damp dirt for a week (covered).  That should give you some idea of what your dealing with.  If it stinks much after a week, I would treat it like meat.  If it doesn't smell much, I would treat it like a charcoal/ mineral treatment for the soil.  I would definitely get it under mulch or dirt though to help it break apart and down (and lest it offend the sensibilities for the sensitive).



The ash in the incinerator looks like a white powder with small charred bones (most under a quarter in size) and they are brittle and break up quite easily though on occasion you may find some that was buried that didn't fully char but thats usually the exception not the norm. But I would say 80-90% of it is almost a powder to fine particles.

Incorporating it into the soil by either adding it to my composted manure I spread with an old pull type spreader and then light discing it into top 2-4 inches of soil and or I may even try adding some to my compost tea I make that I spray on the crops at planting and just before flowering. But I'm not sure if it would be water soluble. I'll do some research on that and even if not it wouldn't hurt as I still use the "used" compost as a side dressing (after it dries some) so it still will end up in the fields.
 
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Most likely the ash would be fine, unless your a purist. Whatever minute trace chemicals that are in the hen's body coming from the non-organic feed it is being fed would possibly be in the ash. While fire would eliminate many chemicals, it won't eliminate all.

Personally I'd use the ash. But then again, I'm not a purist. I don't think there'd be a lot of toxic ick in the ash, no more than what you'd find in the food scraps that people put into their compost without thought or hesitation.
 
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I agree with Su Ba, the ash is fine as is. The only time you need to worry about pathogens is when you ; know, suspect, haven't got a clue, about the actual meat condition. (assuming there is some distinguishable "meat" left)

Any time you have doubts about any item(s) you want to put into your soil, compost it first in a hot compost heap, that will take care of any possible pathogens.

Once your amendments are in the soil, adding a shot of good bacteria and fungi will make sure that everything will end up good in the soil.

Redhawk
 
C Rogers
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:I agree with Su Ba, the ash is fine as is. The only time you need to worry about pathogens is when you ; know, suspect, haven't got a clue, about the actual meat condition. (assuming there is some distinguishable "meat" left)

Any time you have doubts about any item(s) you want to put into your soil, compost it first in a hot compost heap, that will take care of any possible pathogens.

Once your amendments are in the soil, adding a shot of good bacteria and fungi will make sure that everything will end up good in the soil.

Redhawk



Thanks Dr. RedHawk. All the ash, biochar that I've seen in the incinerator looks to have no "meat" left, only white powder to very small particles of bone (80-90%) with some small charred bone fragments, most of them are under a dime in size with a few around quarter in size to slightly larger than a quarter. But those are charred too. I am more worried about salts or possibly adding too much potash (K) than actual toxic substances. Too much "P" or salts in the soil can be as bad as not having any!!! I'll keep an eye on levels with soil testing yearly. My local county extension office (MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY)(GO DAWGZ!!!) does them for $8 per sample. I get multiple samples per 1 acre field and mix them to get an average per acre. I also do tests in my perennial garden. So I have in total 4-5 tests per year. I'll lower this testing to every other year once I see I'm getting close to a balanced soil in each area. The extension office tests though DON'T test for Nitrogen (N) as they just automatically say for most crops to add 80 lbs of actual "N" (usually recommend 40 lbs at planting, and 40 lbs at fruiting). BUT because of me using chicken manure compost I was told that after a few years I shouldn't have to add any "N" as this manure has organic "N" that takes 2-5 years to "become" available in a plant form (bacteria and fungi change the Nitrogen from an organic form into a water soluble/ inorganic form).

On a side note, Dr. RedHawk,

Have you ever heard of a product called "SUMA-GROW", they are a local company that has won many awards for their product (2011 Popular Science Grand Award Winner for Green Technology)(Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant awarded Bio Soil Enhancers (makers of Suma-Grow), the 2016 Governor’s Award for Excellence for Performance in Exporting)(2016 Pitch Tank Winner-The microbial technology of SumaGrow won the Pitch Tank award at the 2016 Freedom-Fest for its ability to increase crop quality and yield while decreasing fertilizer and water usage in agricultural production.) This is just a small list of the awards and press releases.

The reason I'm asking is according to them, Suma-Grow is a humic carrier (humic acid) that has many beneficial microbial and fungi in it. They also claim that using their product can lower input needs (lower to eliminate the need for adding fertilizer) make the soil more neutral pH (lower alkaline soil pH or raise the pH of acidic soil). Also according to their research this product can fix soils that have toxic levels of nutrients and while it fixes nutrients (especially Nitrogen- as it keeps it from becoming a gas form that leaches out of the soil) it will readily give those nutrients to plants in a form they can use. They also have shown that their product helps the soils water holding capacity (it can hold more water before it floods and needs less watering between irrigation.

For full disclosure, at the present time I'm JUST a user of the product, BUT next year I plan on becoming a distributor at local farmers market for people wanting it and showing the public what products I use in my operations.

I also wanted to say that when I planned on adding 2-3 inches of my composted manure (breeder chicken houses) along with mixed in biochar and the bone char I also planned on then spraying 1 gallon of suma-grow and compost tea mixture in my 40 gallon pull type sprayer covering the beds with this after I incorporated the manure/char mix into the top 2-4 inches of soil. I think between the char, bone char, beneficial microbes and fungi in both the compost, compost tea and the suma-grow product I should have healthy soil even though I will be tilling the top 2-4 inches of soil killing some of the microbes/fungi. I'll also be adding more and adding to them a good home (biochar) and tons of food (organic compost) so they should come back and multiply quite well.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The little I know about the suma-grow company wouldn't even fill the head of a pin.

I suspect that what they are selling is microbes in a solution, not a bad thing at all and it will almost certainly add bacterial diversity to your land.
 
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When I was growing up, my granddad had 4 breeder houses on the farm, just like you described, which were contracted with Sanderson. Living on the property and being a kid who was interested in farming, I was often a source of cheap labor, since I didn't have anything else to do during the summer, weekends, & holiday breaks.
A few things I learned over the years:
Very rarely do the chickens die from a serious bacterial or viral pathogen. Most casualties were from chickens just having a brutal nature. I remember knowing when the roosters hit sexual maturity because the daily death tolls would spike on the reports. Roosters would group together to mount a single hen to prove dominance, which often resulted in the hen's death, plus roosters fighting & injuring each other. Also, any type of injury with an open wound or blood would frequently result in the injured bird being a victim of cannibalism. Most injuries came from roosters attempting to steal hens from another rooster's harem, or hens being mated too roughly, which would tear the feathers from the saddle area & tail.
I wouldn't be too concerned about the possibility of disease in the incinerator, as disease prevention was the primary reason we had to use it.
I'm thinking the birds were vaccinated for coccidia & may have had an anticoccidial in the feed since they were not in a caged system. They probably had other vaccinations, as well, but I don't know if the feed/water had any preventatives added. I only remember that each house had it's own water tank where electrolytes were added. I'm not sure how that would be impacted by the incinerator.
Most of the ash from the incinerator was spread in the pasture or dumped in a pile for later use... usually in the same place we picked the litter/manure every summer after the birds left, so we could clean/sanitize the house before the next batch arrived in the fall. The piles of manure/litter were usually left in a big pile until we needed it, or had time to spread it in one of the pastures. While the manure/ash piles would initially kill the grass right next to it, that was probably due to the heat/nitrogen in the manure.  
I also remember the incinerator contents being mostly just ash. If there were any bones left, they generally crumbled to ash with the slightest amount of pressure. So, like the others, I don't think I would be too concerned about using it, unless you suspect it will cause an imbalance by adding things the soil already has a sufficient amount of.

 
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