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Are there nasties in chicken manure from commercial farms?  RSS feed

 
Dave Agnor
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A local (and free) source of fertilizer where I live is chicken manure from commercial operations outside town. Should I be concerned about the diet of the chickens and how they were raised? I know some people have concerns about pharmaceuticals in human manure, which makes me question if antibiotics and hormones are of any concern after composting. I even wonder about pesticides on the grain if they are fed cheap grain.

Has anyone else thought about this? Is there a sound answer?

Thanks!
 
John Elliott
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If it is a commercial operation, you can bet they will be fed the cheapest corn and soy that can be found. Which means GMO corn and soy. I don't think it has become common practice to load up chicken feed with antibiotics as it has with cattle and swine, but until you look and observe, you won't know. So yes, it probably has things in it you won't find coming from your own pastured birds.

What are you planning on doing with this free source? If it's to put it directly on a bed of beets or carrots, that might be a little too close for comfort. If you are planning on using it to build a hugelbed, then the fungal activity in the wood of the hugel will go a long way to degrade anything that is objectionable in the manure. Then again, I have read of operations that turn their ample quantities of chicken manure into biochar. That will have no nasties in it, just char.
 
Alex Ames
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Location: Georgia
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I am not a scientist but have you seen the size of a store bought chicken?
They have to be juiced up on something.

Chicken manure mixed in with some biomass and given enough time would
most likely be good to use but as I said I am not a scientist. I do remember
an old guy who had an eroded back yard. He brought in truck loads of manure
from commercial chicken operations and filled in all the ruts. He said it stunk to
high heaven for awhile. Then he planted it all to garden. He had the best looking
garden you can imagine. The plants were phenomenal.
 
Tim Malacarne
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Location: South central Illinois, USA
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I have used commercial chicken poop. Didn't notice any differences... I did compost it first. That's what I'd advise you to do too. Chicken poop is about 4 times hotter than horse manure, if I remember right... Read up on composting if you don't already know how, and go to it, I say! Best, TM
 
Ardilla Esch
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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There are certainly antibiotic residues:

http://www.ansc.purdue.edu/faen/antibioticsunabsorbed.html
 
Topher Belknap
Posts: 205
Location: Midcoast Maine (zone 5b)
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Alex Ames wrote:I am not a scientist but have you seen the size of a store bought chicken?
They have to be juiced up on something.


I am willing to make the bold-faced assertion, that that is mostly genetics. I have seen free-range meat birds that are just that huge. This of course doesn't answer the question of what they are fed / injected with.

Thank You Kindly,
Topher
 
Andrew Mateskon
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There are other considerations, some pesticides pass through animals and can remain as residue in poop for up to 4 years. These are more broadleaf-targeted pesticides that hay growers have used. It is becoming less common, which is good, because the lifetime of these chemicals involves farmers in liability they don't want to be part of. In my experience, You can easily find out what the chickens eat, just ask the farmer!
 
Mike Hart
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Location: Zone 7b, Georgia.
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Apparently arsenic is the main concern. Here is some good info:

https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/download.php?id=172 [PDF]

Overview by the UGA Extension:

http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.cfm?number=B1330

It is depressing to see that each state's legal tolerance for arsenic in the soil varies by the strength of the state's poultry industry. I wish we had that kind of legislative pull.

 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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I would maybe compost it together with woodchips (you get them for free in the us?) or whatever you find. Chicken poo is too strong to be used directly anyway.
 
dan long
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The composting process does a lot to break down herbicides, pesticides and probably most of any kind of compound you might not want in your food. That being said, persistent herbicides are the exception. Someone said 4 years. That sounds pretty similar to what i've heard too. Somebody else mentioned arsenic. Since that is an element, it isn't going to get any simpler than that. Heavy metals=bad news.

You COULD make a compost pile with lots of brown material, keep it covered, wait 4 years then apply to the garden. It would be excellent compost by then, free of persistent herbicides. But if you are going to wait 4 years, you could make a pile of almost anything, maybe with the exception of sawdust, and it would be just as good at the end of 4 years (high carbon:nitrogen piles GAIN net nitrogen as they ripen. It just takes forever).

I'd get it tested if I were you. Unacceptable levels of persistent herbicide or arsenic and it's just not worth it. If the test results show acceptable levels then congratulations! You have some free fertilizer! Combined with some browns, it can make excellent compost too.
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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Get it tested is a good idea, but bear in mind that commercial chicken poo is the base of most so called organic commercial fertilizers.
 
Bill Crim
pollinator
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Location: Issaquah, WA
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I would treat it like you would human waste. Compost it well and add it to non-food crops like trees. Then you can save you "known good" compost for food crops. A free pile of bird crap is a rather valuable fertilizer, it would be a shame to turn it down.
 
dan long
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Angelika Maier wrote:Get it tested is a good idea, but bear in mind that commercial chicken poo is the base of most so called organic commercial fertilizers.


Personally, I feel that "organic" has very VERY low standards. I feel like organic should either have higher standards or there should be some kind of "super organic" that doesn't allow for ANY pesticides, natural or chemical and doesn't allow any uncomposted manures. I would like to see humanure or at least urine become acceptable in organic practices though because it's crazy that we have the audacity to say organic is more sustainable when it doesn't close the nutrient cycle.
 
John Saltveit
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Do you think it would be legal to feed your chickens arsenic in Europe, Japan , or Canada? I'm guessing not. Yes I am angry about that.
johNS
PDX OR
 
Wojciech Majda
Posts: 43
Location: Vietnam
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Manure contaminated with high level of herbicide is the one coming from the cattle and horses as they are fed feed containing a lot of herbicides. Chicken manure is sort of OK (in this respect). Anyway almost all organic operations use manure from conventional sources, so I wouldn't be concern with high initial application of this manure. Use it to build up nutrients level in your soil (aka use shitloads of chicken crap) and then use something else (that you maybe will be paying for) to maintain high nutrient level.
 
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