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Chickens refining the compost  RSS feed

 
Shelly Randall
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Location: Central Valley California
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I remember reading something about decomposing bugs getting into the garden via the compost and eating young plants, so I started putting the finished compost into the chicken pen for them to eat the bugs and what not. I don't really see any bugs, but the chickens go to town eating something, and when they are through with it, it is nice and even and fluffy. It's more work than I'd like to do, but it makes the chickens joyful, I might get extra nitrogen in the compost, and hopefully the bugs will be eaten. Have I discovered a new permie technique? Are there any drawbacks?
 
Leila Rich
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Any idea what kind of 'bugs' they were talking about?
I assume visible ones, like slaters/sow bugs?
From what I understand, slaters are the 'clean up crew', and generally prefer rotting organic matter (like compost...) and stressed plants.
My compost always has lots of compost worms in it, and they seem to thrive in the garden under the mulch.
I don't have chickens, but I know there wouldn't be much competition: the chickens can get their own worms!
 
Shelly Randall
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I don't see much crawling around. Maybe because it's winter, they are dormant or dead? I see a few sow bugs and millipedes which they won't eat. I hadn't thought about the good bugs that they are eating as well. No worms are visible though they may be deeper in the pile.
 
Chris Watson
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Leila, I would add that slaters (pill bugs, roly-polies, whatever you call 'em) though generally beneficial, don't feed excusively on rotting matter. They have a fondness for certain live roots, strawberries among them.
 
Leila Rich
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Chris Watson wrote:Leila, I would add that slaters (pill bugs, roly-polies, whatever you call 'em) though generally beneficial, don't feed excusively on rotting matter. They have a fondness for certain live roots, strawberries among them.

Certainly not exclusive, but generally...
Ok, I was kinda avoiding the strawberry thing, they may be the exception that proves the rule!
 
Walter Ouzel
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I think the drawback might be more work, but I do it too. After I sift my compost, I put it in a wood frame in my run, so the chickens don't kick all over. My chickens love all the sow bugs, pincer bugs, worms in a finished compost pile and I agree that it cleans up the bugs from the pile. I also float my compost piles in wire rings around the drip line of my fruit trees. My theory is the compost pile is a nutrient bomb to my fruit trees. Each time I make a pile, I put it in a new spot. When I shift my paddocks to forage my chickens, I try to have fresh remains of the compost pile in the new paddock. Then the chickens get all the fresh greens and lots of bugs left in the remains of an old pile. Floating the compost piles is more work too, but benefits the trees and chickens.
 
Ken Peavey
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My chickens have complete access to several heaps around here. They tear it up. The compost is a fine habitat for bugs and worms of all types, and offer an easy source of protein for the chickens.
You've got the right idea. You can save yourself some work by letting the chickens get to the heap.

 
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