What to Do With All that Poo (composting manure)

As Doug and I were shoveling alpaca poop onto the garden beds yesterday I said lightly, “You sure can’t be bothered by poop if you live on a farm, can you?!”  He laughed and agreed and we continued shoveling.  I did not know that I would be around it so much post baby diapers. But there it is, now what to do with it?

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The nice thing about Alpaca droppings is that it won’t burn plants.  It is adds nitrogen to the soil but does not have to be composted.  It can be added directly around plants and into garden beds.  From poop pile to garden bed.  Instant fertilizer.  If you know someone that has alpacas, they will likely share.  It is an added benefit to adopting alpacas, no more Miracle Grow!

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The chicken coop is full of future nutrition for the soil but it needs a bit more time.  Believe me, six months on a farm goes real fast though.  I have a compost bin that Doug easily made out of discarded pallets.  In the first one, the pile starts.  Coffee grounds from the coffee shop and the kitchen, tea bags, and other items I wouldn’t put in the chicken food go in the pile along with the soiled chicken bedding.

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When Nancy and I saw Joel Salatin two summers ago he mentioned that leaving the bedding in the coop all winter and just adding more as needed creates a warm space for the animals.  In the spring, we are to shovel out the foot high plus pile of bedding and move it to the compost pile.  Nancy didn’t like this idea when she tried it.  She has a lot more chickens than I do and for her the smell was overwhelming.  The floor of my coop is dirt and it works well for me.  Next month I will scoop out the soiled bedding and leftover scraps they didn’t want (orange peels and such) and throw them in the first open bin of compost.  He also mentioned that using straw is what creates the ammonia smell.  I stopped using it and started using the pine shavings he suggested.  The coop does not smell bad at all.  However, now I learn that ducks will eat pine shavings so we will be back using straw soon.  So, in this case, I may clean out the coop four times a year instead of two.

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Scooped into the wheel barrel and thrown into its requisite side, it will be topped with some dirt or finished compost and left to finish.  (Note: I constantly forget to turn my compost.  It never looks completely black and finished, but it still works.) In the fall when I go to add compost to cleaned out beds, it will be perfect.  Then the bedding from the summer coop pile will be cooking away in the second open area of the compost bin and will be ready to apply in spring.

new goats

The goat poo is new to us this year.  It will not easily be picked up in their pasture as they drop small and many pellets.  I’d be raking for a  week.  However, their bedding will get changed out next month from their igloo and that will go into the cooking pile of compost.

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Dog and cat feces may not go into the pile.  It will decompose in the grass, true, but just like ours, one would need a composting toilet and high heat to kill the bacteria present.  Doug and I are planning on getting a composting toilet in the next house though!

Human urine kick starts the whole process.  However, raised in a home of decorum and higher society than most folks I know, Doug refuses to pee on the compost pile.  (Of course we are open to a major thoroughfare and close neighbors.)

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I used to think the chickens were going to give me too much compost to use.  But I find myself in constant lack.  The more I garden, the more I need.  The larger this farm gets, the more I need.  Even if one lived in a house smack dab in the middle of Denver one can use the compost from the allotted chickens and goats there.  It goes faster than you think!

Manure tea can also be made with droppings and poured on house plants or outdoor beds.  Just make sure the manure sat for six months if it isn’t from an alpaca.

I never thought in my life I would be writing about poop.  Just goes to show, never say never and having a farm changes you.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. debweeks says:

    You had me at poop 🙂
    I long for poop!!!! Lots of poop!!! Chicken poop! Goat poop! Sheep poop! Duck poop! My garden will love the poop!!! Therefore, I will love the poop!!! There can never be too much poop. Okay, maybe there can be too much poop, but not in my farm plans.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      A new Irish blessing: May your farm always be filled with poop.

      1. debweeks says:

        LOL!!! Thank you!!!! And may your farm always be filled with poop too!

  2. Janice says:

    Goat poop is great for your garden – much like alpaca. When I’m planting, I dig a row, add goat poop and seeds, cover, and voila! No composting required. It is tricky to collect if your goats are in a pasture, but if you have a concentrated area that you can rake up, it’s pure gold.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      I was trying to find the answer to this because it doesn’t seem too different than deer or alpaca! Thank you for the answer.

  3. Mark Pearce says:

    You frequently make me laugh, and today’s tale is no exception. For some reason it really tickled me when you were talking about alpaca poo and said, “If you know someone who has alpacas, they will likely share.” LOL! You definitely live in a different world than I do. I’m not even sure how to broach the subject. “That was really a lovely dinner. Thank you for having me over. By the way, could I trouble you for a scoop of alpaca poo for the ride home?”

    Also, I gotta vote with Doug on this business of not wanting to pee on a compost heap next to a major thoroughfare and close neighbors. I mean fun’s fun, but you gotta draw the line somewhere!

    Great article! 😉

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Oh my gosh, friend, YOU are the funny one. Just pulled myself off the floor. Doug agreed to pee on the compost pile now.

    2. Oh come on, that’s one of the best things about living out in the country for us men. If the urge hits, just step up to a bush and let er rip. 🙂

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