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Mastering composting!?

 
Terry Frankeberger
Posts: 33
Location: West Tennessee
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forest garden rabbit woodworking
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I have tried to compost using several different methods. The problem was that I had no idea what compost really was. My results varied but always failed. This usually meant that I had a stinky wet mess covered with maggots, flies, and or some other undesired pests. This included the tumbler composter.
Last year I finally learned of the Berkley hot compost from geoff lawton. Who also informed me as to what compost was. Finally, I was mildly successful but it was so labor intensive.
Then I watched Geoff Lawtons chicken composter videos. So I gave it a try. I tossed my last year leaves, that I was saving to use in my hot compost piles, into my chicken run. I dump rabbit litter and garden scraps into it as well. The results are AMAZING! This compost is a rich black in color, soft and flaky to the touch, does not stink (in fact the entire run does not stink), and feels equally moist through out. The chickens are healthy, eat less grains, and spend hours scratching without any signs of fatigue. The best part is that it takes minimal labor from me.
I have just started layering my garden using this compost and cant wait to see the results there.

I'll try to post pictures soon.

-tfrankeberger
 
Druce Batstone
Posts: 38
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Looking forward to the pictures Terry. I'm pretty happy with hot composting (not as rapid as the Berkley method and less labor intensive) but want to integrate composting in a new chicken garden. This will be two separate areas (12m x 2.5m runs) with chickens restricted to one run for 4 to 6 months. My plan was to have compost bins at the end of each run. I was thinking to allow access to one bin one to two months before moving the chickens to the next run. You seem to have a simpler system. Do you make a big, unprotected pile of leaves, rabbit litter and garden scraps in one go? Surely, some time must elapse before you let the chickens at it. I too have watched Geoff Lawton's videos but do not have the large volume of raw materials, helpers and space that he has to work a similar system. The idea is great but too big for me. You seem to have nailed compost feeding on a small scale so more details and pictures would be great.
 
Terry Frankeberger
Posts: 33
Location: West Tennessee
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forest garden rabbit woodworking
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Here are the pictures as I promised.

To answer your question Druce, I am using aged leaves that I piled up last fall. The last picture is what remains from the piles. Every other day or so I put a few five gallon buckets full of it into the run. When I clean out from under my rabbit cages (twice a week or so) I dump the rabbit litter directly into the run. I have found that if I try to keep the rabbit litter around for any amount of time that it grows moldy. Also when I cut the old plants from my garden and put them into the run so the chickens can have some greens in their diet.

About once a week, I gather the finished compost from the far end of the run.
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This is the finished compost.
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Here are my girls at work.
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Last years leaves.
 
Bill Ramsey
Posts: 86
Location: SW Georgia, zone 8b
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They do love having a pile of leaves to toss about. My rabbit hutch and chicken coop is built into one structure where the birds can scratch around underneath the rabbits. It's worked out well as long as the rabbit nests have a wooden floor to keep the birds from pulling nesting material down through the floor. My original thought was to keep fleas and ticks off of the rabbits but it also helps that they eat or compost everything that the rabbits drop through the cracks. Good luck with your compost! It's potent stuff.
 
trampas jones
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I definitely can't wait to grab a bucket of that stuff my friend! With our farm focusing on agrotourism I have to keep with hot composting for now.
 
Druce Batstone
Posts: 38
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Thanks for the pictures and further explanation Terry. I was remiss in not mentioning a parallel thread http://www.permies.com/t/11693/chickens/Chickens-compost-heaps that is still active with very good information as well.
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