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Dry dog food as compost?

 
Posts: 670
Location: St. George, UT. Zone 8a Dry/arid. 8" of rain in a good year.
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I googled it.  It seems to be a reasonable thing to add to a compost pile.  Just curious if anyone had any input about it.

I have more than 200 lbs. of dry dog kibble.  It's a brand called "Hunter's Special", and there are three different types.  They're all about 20% protein and about 12% fat.  I get them for free where I work on occasion.  I was considering feeding some to my dogs, but the online reviews that I googled only gave it one or so stars.

I have a very deep compost pile that is partially submerged in water.  The top stays completely dry, but several inches down is moist, a few more inches is water.   There are worms, cockroaches, ants, tons of different bugs, and my chickens live on top of all of it.  In the  ten or so years I've had chickens in my urban backyard, I've never had a predator problem.  No raccoons, no possums, no rats that I know of, etc.   There might be rats?  I've never seen one, though.  I live in the Mojave Desert.  

I figure I'll dig several holes all around the 30' X 12' pile of mainly wood chips, bury the dog food in the holes, then cover it all back up with several inches of the wood chips.

Any reasons why not to?  
Better use for the dog food?  I tried giving some to the chickens, but they had zero interest in it.

Here's a list of ingredients off one of the bags.
Meat and bone meal, ground yellow corn, ground wheat, corn distillers dried grains, chicken fat preserved with bha, rice bran, corn gluten meal beet pulp, natural chicken flavor, flaxseed, SALT, potassium chloride, chlorine chloride, vitamin a supplement, vitamin d3 supplement, vitamin e supplement, niacin, zinc sulfate, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, vitamin b12 supplement, calcium iodate, sodium selenite.

Yeah, some of those things seem ugly.  Just curious about any thoghts?

Thanks!



 
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Just curious--would an animal shelter near you be thrilled to take it?

I'm of the mindset of "waste not, want not." I'd try to find a way to use it, if I were able.

Ideas:

1. Would your chickens eat it if you soaked it first?
2. Could you put it into a separate part of your compost bin in a way that you could easily remove it if it was rancid/attracting rodents/etc?

I'm sure others here will give other ideas, and I'm looking forward to hearing what you decide to do with it.
 
pollinator
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Yeah, it's fairly low grade dog food. Still, I think that there are better places for it than your compost heap -- charities supporting abandoned dogs, or dogs that live with street people. Local thrift shops and pounds have connections for this stuff. Personally I think it's worth trying. My 2c.
 
Joshua Bertram
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The thing is, I'm not allowed to donate, sell, or give away anything I get from work.  They've already declared it a loss, and I think they're worried about things being double tax written off if that makes sense?  So I could theoretically get a write off from the shelter if I were to donate it, and  the company I work for already wrote it off as a loss.  They tell us all the time they'll stop giving the stuff away if they find we're not using it for self use.  Do I think I'd get caught?  No, but there's no reason to break the rules either.  

I thought about wetting it and giving it to the chickens, but I have so much of it, and it would take so much time to wet it, and then give it to the birds.  Not to mention it's 105'ish every day here with humidity in the teens.  It wouldn't stay wet very long.  It's a good idea, and if I had more time I'd do it if they liked it.  Unfortunately it's just me, and I work 12 hour days, so I just don't have the time/energy to deal with another "chore".

I wasn't thinking it'd be a "waste" to put it in the compost pile.  From what I read on google, it's an awesome fertilizer once it's broken down.   I was actually thinking it was a really good way to put it to use so it wasn't wasted.   The chickens and I would be eating it eventually, just in a different form.

I'll have to think on it some more.

Thanks for the advice!
 
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I have actually used some cheap dog food in the past as the nitrogen component when layering up a hot compost pile.
 
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I know it's been talked about here, and I don't see why it wouldn't work as a fertilizer, considering your restrictions. In fact I think people just buried it in the beds, rather than composting it.
My only concern would be to check the brand because there have been a lot of dog food recalls recently and it would stink to have to worry about your chickens or even yourself because of some substance in the dog food if it's contaminated.
 
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Another thought that would be a bit more work, would mealworms eat it? Then it could go to the chickens afterwards.

For a low effort solution I would add a handful to each planting hole. but that would take rather a long time to go through it.
 
Stacie Kim
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Joshua Bertram wrote:The thing is, I'm not allowed to donate, sell, or give away anything I get from work.  They've already declared it a loss, and I think they're worried about things being double tax written off if that makes sense?  So I could theoretically get a write off from the shelter if I were to donate it, and  the company I work for already wrote it off as a loss.  They tell us all the time they'll stop giving the stuff away if they find we're not using it for self use.  Do I think I'd get caught?  No, but there's no reason to break the rules either.  



Bummer. It makes sense from an accounting view, and there is indeed no reason for you to break the rules. Especially if it means your boss will stop giving stuff away to some people who could really use it.

I thought about wetting it and giving it to the chickens, but I have so much of it, and it would take so much time to wet it, and then give it to the birds.  Not to mention it's 105'ish every day here with humidity in the teens.  It wouldn't stay wet very long.  It's a good idea, and if I had more time I'd do it if they liked it.  Unfortunately it's just me, and I work 12 hour days, so I just don't have the time/energy to deal with another "chore".



Also understandable.

I wasn't thinking it'd be a "waste" to put it in the compost pile.  From what I read on google, it's an awesome fertilizer once it's broken down.   I was actually thinking it was a really good way to put it to use so it wasn't wasted.   The chickens and I would be eating it eventually, just in a different form.

I'll have to think on it some more.

Thanks for the advice!



I wouldn't think it'd be a "waste" either. It's all going back to the earth where it came from. I'm interested to know what you decide to do. And how you like the results.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Joshua Bertram wrote:The thing is, I'm not allowed to donate, sell, or give away anything I get from work.  


Okay, got it. That changes everything. I think it's worth trying in compost -- much better than sending it to the dump. I don't know if it would attract animals though. Don't want to exchange one problem for another.
 
pollinator
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All the shelters around here stick to one brand of food for the animals to avoid digestive upset switching between foods. So the shelters there might not want the food anyway.  I'd compost it or bury it right in the garden beds.
 
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I would be afraid it would attract rodents and unwanted creatures like coyotes and bears and who knows what else. bears have noses as good or better than dogs.
but I'm kinda out in the boonies where theses things are around when you don't want them around. had a neighbor that bought hog food by the ton and kept it in an unsecured crudely built shack. infestation of maggots and rats some as big as house cats. and family of 4 black bears were seen strolling across the road.
 
Jan White
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I'm pretty sure bears and coyotes wouldn't be a problem since you say you would bury the dogfood in wood chips. I bury my compost in my gardens most of the year. I've only had coyotes get into stuff when it was barely covered with soil. Never had bears dig anything up, despite having them tromping all over the place overnight sometimes.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Actually this might be a method to dispose of a bag of trout food I was given. The deer mice keep chewing into the shed to get it, peeing and pooping their stinky little hantivirus bombs. I'm trying a wood chip compost experiment: perfect solution.
 
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You and others are correct, no shelter will use low quality, mystery meat food - not worth the vet bills.  

Would the chickens like a maggot feeder???  I can tell you, from my UNINTENTIONAL experience that wet dog food is wicked for maggot production. Soak it down, leave it out, two days tops (when warm) and the chickens will be thrilled - assuming he flies and smell do not bother you.

Pigs would be an ideal customer...perhaps you could "buy" a pig from a local farmer who would "use" the dog food to "feed" your pig? That way you are neither selling nor giving it away (just feeding YOUR pig that lives elsewhere) and you get a pig out of the deal.

That said, IF you have dogs, you could use it as a base; topped with human leftovers such as defatted meat/fish, fruits and veggies to create a more healthful meal.

Yes, you can compost it; but I highly recommend soaking it first and mixing it WELL with something to at least a 1:3 (food: addition) ratio as it tends to clump, get grossly moldy and stinky...
 
Joshua Bertram
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Thanks for all of the ideas!  

I think I'm going to bury most of it in the compost pile.  That being said, I am totally going to try putting some in the raised beds before planting in the spring.  I just found out about alfalfa feed pellets last year, so it seems like the same kind of idea.  Thanks for the idea.  It makes sense.

I love Lorrine's idea about letting a local pig farmer have the food and then trade me a pig when it's ready to harvest!  That seems like a decent trade offer.   I'll have to think more about that.  I don't eat a lot of pork, nor do I know how to process a pig.  It'd be a great learning experience though.  I like it.

The bucket of maggots has me intrigued too.  Of course my chickens would love the treats.  I might try to rig something up.  It's so hot and dry here is the problem.  I wonder if I could rig up a drip line from the garden beds (my beds get watered multiple times every day) run it to the bucket of dog food and let the flies go to town on it.  Hmmm?   Not too much effort since I already have drip lines installed in the coop to water the chickens anyway.  

I'm in an urban like backyard surrounded by concrete walls.  There are zero predators I have ever seen come back here in eleven years.  I used to let my chickens roam the yard day and night unprotected and never lost one to a predator, so really it's not an issue.   All of my neighbors and myself have really vocal dogs that pretty much bark anytime anything unusual goes on, so it's going to deter pretty much every predator from attempting to get a free meal.   That being said, there are tons of fox, coyote, and mountain lion around here.   I just don't think it's worth the hassle for them to deal with the dogs.  

I'll snap some pictures today when I bury about half of it in the compost pile.  

Thanks again for confirming the idea, and suggesting other viable options.

Josh

 
Joshua Bertram
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Finally got around to burying most of the dog food.  120lbs of dry dog food went into the wood chips.  
I dug down into the water (my compost pile is an in ground swimming pool that collect rain water).  I figure it'll decompose quicker if it's contact with the water, not to mention it'll probably get distributed? around the pile better?  That's just a guess.

Dug about 12 trenches all around the pool and buried it so that it was kind of evenly distributed.  

Saved two bags for when I top off my raised beds this fall/spring.  I'll just sprinkle a layer of dog food on top of the existing compost, and then bury that with new sifted compost from the swimming pool wood chip compost.  

I'll throw in a couple of "bonus" pictures of my sweet potatoes and crazy big sunflower bush/tree.  I measured it two months ago and it was almost twelve feet tall.  A month ago it got pushed on its side in a windstorm.  It's pushing out sunflowers like crazy now.  
I only include it because the beds that all of it is growing in is wood chip compost from the pool that I put in this last spring.   Next year I'm guessing it'll grow a stalk the size of a five gallon bucket!  :)  j/k  



IMG_20210831_101721203.jpg
Trenches in wood chips. Anaerobic water ten inches under. Tons of life.
Trenches in wood chips. Anaerobic water ten inches under. Tons of life.
IMG_20210831_101956143.jpg
Dry dog food in trenches.
Dry dog food in trenches.
IMG_20210831_100838431.jpg
Beer can vs. sunflower stalk.
Beer can vs. sunflower stalk.
IMG_20210831_100815523.jpg
Sunflower bent over on fence. Sweet potatoes in front. Dead corn in back.
Sunflower bent over on fence. Sweet potatoes in front. Dead corn in back.
 
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What about cat food?
 
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Ok, since this thread is coming back to life, David the Good says that he read John Starnes in Florida uses dog food in his "melon pits."

A melon pit is simply a 3-foot hole filled in with whatever biological nastiness you can think to throw in there, cover up, and plant melons on top of. Dead chickens. Fish guts. Poop. Shredded paper. Dead lettuce. Soup. Uneaten noodles. Dog food.

Yes, dog food. Want your melons to go crazy? Try it.

j
 
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I'm not going to manage 3 foot deep (I assume that's what 3 foot means) but I'm planning to mix problematic cat food with some blendered up dead punkin, and put it as deep as I can, and under other layers of stuff before the dirt.
Hopefully it won't make the garden explode out random ends like that cat food does the cat. Garden vomit at least isn't on the rug though...  

:D
 
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Why on earth would you throw away dog or cat food. No matter how good or poor quality it is? There are lots of low income, poor, under monetized people who have pets and have trouble affording the cost of pet food. There are folks on the street with pets. There are animal shelters. There are elders on fixed incomes. There are even poor farmers. Some food for pets, of any quality, is better than no food. Pass your abundance on.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Jim Fry wrote:Why on earth would you throw away dog or cat food. No matter how good or poor quality it is? There are lots of low income, poor, under monetized people who have pets and have trouble affording the cost of pet food. There are folks on the street with pets. There are animal shelters. There are elders on fixed incomes. There are even poor farmers. Some food for pets, of any quality, is better than no food. Pass your abundance on.


Jim, normally I would agree, but in this case the OP was absolutely forbidden from passing along the dog food to anyone else. It's better in his compost than in the dumpster.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Jim Fry wrote:Why on earth would you throw away dog or cat food.


Because the oils have gone rancid and it's full of bugs. The container it was in got damaged.
 
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