If you’re raising backyard chickens, one of the best uses for all that chicken poop is turning it into manure.
If you also grow vegetables, plants, and in particular, tomato plants, you should use your fertilizer-producing chickens to your advantage!
Here is a look at how you can make and use chicken manure for tomatoes and other plants to give them a nice boost.
What Exactly Is Chicken or Poultry Manure?
If you’re not very green-fingered or are here because you’re interested in what chicken manure is, I can explain:
Chicken manure is chicken poop after it’s been composted and turned into manure.
It’s often used as a fertilizer because it contains lots of nutrients that plants need, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
It’s actually too strong to be used raw on plants. You’ll end up ‘burning’ or damaging your plants if you do that, so it’s important you compost your chicken’s poop.
Chicken manure is lower in some nutrients compared to the leading synthetic fertilizers on the market.
But it’s a natural alternative, which appeals to a lot of gardeners. Plus, if you’re able to get it for free, it’s a no-brainer way to recycle all that poop and save some money in the process.
How Do You Make Chicken Manure from Chicken Poop?
You can make chicken manure from chicken poop in a few different ways.
The most common way is to compost it. You can either do this in a pile or in a bin.
There are many ways to compost, but the easiest way is to layer your chicken manure with other organic matter like leaves, grass clippings, and food scraps.
Turn the pile every few days to help aerate it and speed up the process. Your chicken manure should be ready to use in about five to six weeks.
Benefits of using Chicken Manure for Tomatoes
Chicken manure is a popular fertilizer for tomato plants because it contains high levels of nitrogen.
Nitrogen is essential for the growth of leaves and helps produce more fruit.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so they need a lot of nutrients to grow well. Chicken manure can give them the extra boost they need to produce bigger, healthier fruit.
In addition to nitrogen, chicken manure also contains phosphorus and potassium, which are important for root growth and flowering.
Something that separates chicken manure from other manures is that it also provides a slow-release source of macro and micronutrients and acts as a soil amendment.
Pretty impressive for chicken poop, right!?
How to Make Chicken Manure ‘Tea’
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any grosser, I’m here to tell you that there is a chicken manure tea that gardening enthusiasts use on their plants.
Chicken manure tea is made by steeping chicken manure in water for a few days.
It’s recommended you mix one-part manure with two-parts water, and the resulting ‘tea’ is then used as a fertilizer when watering plants.
Safety Precautions when Handling Chicken Poop and Making Manure
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that it’s not nice handling poop and that there are some health risks involved!
When you’re handling chicken manure, it’s important to wear gloves and a mask to avoid inhaling any bacteria.
You should also wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
It’s also important to be aware of the risk of toxoplasmosis. This is a disease that can be contracted from handling contaminated chicken manure.
Pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk, so it’s important they avoid handling chicken manure.
Then there are the pathogens known to be passed around flocks via poop; E. coli, Salmonella, and Cryptosporidium.
These can cause serious illnesses in humans, so it’s important you take care when handling chicken manure.
Can I Use Chicken Manure Pellets on Tomatoes?
If you don’t want to handle chicken manure yourself or go through the composting process, you can pick up chicken manure pellets.
Chicken manure pellets are a lot easier – and less messy – to handle and can be picked up at most gardening stores or online.
They’re also a great option if you’re short on space as they can be stored in a small area.
To use them, simply scatter them around the base of your tomato plants and water them in.
How Much Manure Do Chickens Produce?
If you’re trying to calculate how much manure you can make from your flock, I can help you out with some rough numbers.
It’s estimated that the average hen produces around 1 cubic foot of manure every 5 months.
That’s right, chickens poop a lot!
So, you can estimate how much manure you’re going to be able to make per the number of hens you have in your flock with some rough calculations.
Once you realize that you can turn chicken poop into a powerful fertilizer for your yard, you never really feel the same when cleaning out a coop.
Not only is chicken manure a great source of nutrients for your tomato plants, but it also acts as a soil amendment.
If you want all the benefits without composting the manure yourself, because it does smell, you can pick up chicken manure pellets from most gardening stores.
Image credits – Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash