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Composting With Chickens

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This morning we are thrilled to be able to welcome our friend Kristi Stone from the great blog Let This Mind Be In You to our little blog!

She is a real inspiration to us with her continued growth and learning on their mini homestead and on her blog. We have loved working with her on creating and co-hosting the From The Farm Blog Hop each week.

We are excited to have her and her two curious side kicks Lucy and Ethel join us this morning!

Composting With Chickens

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Last year, when my husband told me that his anniversary gift to me would be two laying hens and a chicken coop, I was elated!

I got to work researching chicken breeds, matching their strengths with our climate and needs, so as to find the perfect two chickens for our family. When I brought them home, I cared for them like a mother hen, making sure they were safe, warm, and happy. Occasionally I entertained them, too. Well—I should say that they entertained me with the way they were so small and curious, and their constant tiny little peeps warmed my heart. When they started laying their lovely large brown eggs, I felt like I was getting a gift every day; and when I tasted them, I knew I was. I began giving each of my girls a pat and a verbal thank you when I found eggs in the nesting box. It was a match made in heaven, Lucy, Ethel and me.

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What I didn’t know about Lucy and Ethel is that they would give me so much more than just eggs and companionship. These girls, just by their own natural tendencies, were going to show me what they could do on our little budding homestead. Following me around the yard, scratching and foraging became a fast hobby of theirs, and it became evident to me that it wasn’t out of love for their ‘mother hen’ that they followed. Apparently my garden tools were unearthing lovely and delectable treats, and they knew it.

Soon they learned that where ‘Mom’ and those tools went, they wanted to go too, and often that meant the compost pile.

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At first, they were sort of in the way. Every time I put my shovel or garden fork to the pile, they were right there—almost to their detriment—foraging. Their faith in my control of my heavy garden tools was matched by their hungry little crops anticipating whatever I might uncover for them to snack on. We became a team, the girls and me, creating nutritious compost for the garden, which in turn, aids me in growing delicious veggies for the family. It’s a good thing.

You and your chickens can also become a team. All you need are chickens, garden tools, and a compost pile that you add your kitchen scraps to, along with any other green and brown matter that strikes your fancy.

Actually, your chickens won’t even need you, they’ll scratch to their hearts’ content if you allow them to, but in my opinion, it’s much more fun working as a team.

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Reasons to Use Chickens in Your Compost Pile

• Save money on feed by allowing your chickens to forage for some or most of their food (depending on how safe it is to leave them out)

• Good nutritional content for your chickens – lots of grubs, worms, and leftover food items

• They are adding their droppings to the compost pile as they forage and eat

• They remove grubs (like from the Japanese beetle) from your compost pile that would be otherwise harmful to the roots of your plants if they were to make it into your garden

• Remove unwanted seeds that might otherwise sprout in your compost

• They turn your compost for you, which helps your compost materials to break down more quickly

Before You Let Your Chickens Compost

There are some foods that are toxic to chickens that you will want to avoid putting into the compost piles where your chickens are ‘working’.

These foods are:

• Chocolate
• Onions
• Avocado and pits
• Uncooked potato (especially green)
• Tomato plants
• Stonefruit pits
• Foods high in salt
• Apple seeds
• Alcohol (or foods that contain it)
• Dried beans (uncooked)
• Caffeinated drinks
• Food you wouldn’t eat (moldy or rotten food, etc.)

As you can see there is no reason not to allow your chickens to assist you with your compost pile, and every reason to allow them to enjoy this homesteading task. If you don’t mind a bit of ‘company’ while you work, your chickens are sure to put you on the fast track to piles of wonderful ‘black gold’ and an awesome harvest!

For further reading:
Composting with Chickens (Backyard Chickens)
Sustainable Living with Pet Chickens (My Pet Chicken)
The Lazy Gardener’s Compost Heap (The Modern Homestead)

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Kristi, a homeschooling mom, lives in Riverside County, Southern California with her husband and two of her three children. Though she has been gardening for years, she and her family have not always sought to live closer to the land. As the homesteading movement began to pick up speed, she and her husband became more interested in vegetable gardening, planting fruit and nut trees, and raising laying hens and rabbits–all on .18 of an acre. Eventually Kristi’s family would love to move to a larger parcel of land, but for now, Kristi is contented to learn all about homesteading, eeking out every bit of knowledge she can and blogging about much of it at Let This Mind Be in You . Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and podcasting on The Mind to Homestead (also on iTunes).

By on May 28th, 2013

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About Dani Meyer

Hi, I’m Dani! I’m most importantly mama to 3 wild little dudes. I spend my days cooking, photographing and exploring the Pacific Northwest. I'm a full time food blogger and online business coach.

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