2009-06-02

Urban Chickens - method of reclamation and reuse

Urban chickens are all the fade. Some have been doing it for years but critical mass is being reached and people trying it out are on the rise.

After several attempts I have found a systems that works great. In the coup put straw. Using wood shavings and other things gets too wet and messy while the straw does a good job a breathing. In the closed in chicken run put sand. Areas where they are free roaming don't matter as you won't be cleaning up those areas.

Now for the magic.
The straw from the coup
Assuming you have a compost pile where you want to cultivate the Nitrogen from the chickens. Putting the straw in the compost will take a long time to break down and you will go through too much straw so -- put the straw in a wheel barrel and then fill it with water. Mix it around a bit and the bird fesses/dropping/poop will dissolve and sync to the bottom. The straw floats which I then skim off the top with a garden rake and spread out on the lawn for drying and putting back into the chicken coup. Lastly pour the liquid aka tea onto your compost pile. It will then give the compost the water it needs and all that Nitrogen will begin to break down. Don't apply the tea directly to the garden as the Nitrogen content is too high / hot and will burn plants. Also, to kill off any diseases best to compost the droppings before use.

The sand from the chicken run
With a rack or shovel put the top layer of sand that contains the bird droppings, feathers, and other stuff that has built up into the wheel barrel. Fill with water and then pour the water onto the compost pile leaving behind the sand to reuse back in the chicken run. Feathers will have floated and gone into your compost.

Note: don't do the sand and straw at the same time, too much work. This is a good reason to keep straw out of the run and just in the coup.

Here are some quick tips to help you make it work:
  1. Go to The ICYouSee Handy-Dandy Chicken Chart at Ithaca College and pick the breed that meets your environment and with the temperament you desire. I like the human friendly and less noisy breeds, winter layers, fun colored eggs.
  2. Another is Back Yard Chickens, this site will give you ideas on coup building, space, etc.
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