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nathan125 May 1, 2018 07:06 PM

Chicken compost...ammonia smell
I went to a commercial hatchery and had 2 1/2 yards of chicken manure dumped in the bed. When the manure/compost was lifted into the bed, the pile emitted a very strong ammonia smell and heat and steam rose from the pile. It looks broken down and was very hot in the center. However the strong ammonia smell has been wondering if it is safe to add to my raised beds for this years planting.

Any advice would be great.

MissS May 1, 2018 07:24 PM

Chicken manure is high in nitrogen. This is the reason that it is running hot. Most often chicken manure is added in the fall so that the ammonia can breakdown over the winter. If it is hot and smells of ammonia then it has not finished composting. I would not add this to your beds until the season is over. It will greatly improved your gardens next year. This was a very good find but not ready for use during this growing season.

brownrexx May 1, 2018 08:01 PM

Yes, chickens do not pee so the poo contains their liquid waste as well as solids and thus smells of ammonia. Definitely too strong to use right away.

nathan125 May 1, 2018 08:59 PM

Could I saturate the manure in some water to dilute it and use it as compost tea?

MissS May 1, 2018 09:21 PM

Of all of the manures that you can use, chicken has the highest level of nitrogen even when it is not hot. Of course you could try this knowing that it is an experiment and being prepared to either have a plant that dies or has so much vegetative growth that it will not produce tomatoes. It is a gamble. I will not say that you 'can't', just that you could try. Go ahead and let us know the results. They in fact could be outstanding.

zipcode May 2, 2018 04:34 AM

I would just add a part of it. Not sure how big your bed is, but chicken manure is to be used sparingly even composted, it sounds like you wanted to dump a lot. A 1 cm layer (and then mixed) would be a good amount I think for your case, maybe even less. Teas don't contain all the benefit of the manure, only the soluble parts which most often is nitrogen. I have used fresh chicken manure before, as long as you use it wisely (most problematic is to include too much in the beginning, so small plants which are sensitive don't develop well) it's a good fertilizer. I used to mostly add it mid season, but partly incorporating it in the soil around the plants.

Labradors2 May 2, 2018 09:46 AM

Ideally, we should wait a year before using hot chicken manure in our veggie gardens. As others have said, it needs to break down before use.

I would either leave that bed fallow this season, or dig out the manure and leave it in a pile to finish breaking down.


brownrexx May 2, 2018 10:12 AM

I only get fairly small amounts of manure since I only have 12 hens but I add that to my compost pile when I clean it out of the coop.

nathan125 May 2, 2018 07:06 PM

I made a compost bin and put it in there and mixed in some dried grass clippings from last summer. Greens are easy to accumulate but browns are hard.

rxkeith May 3, 2018 01:12 AM

i put my coop clean out directly in the garden. yeah its hot, but spread out enough, it hasn't been a problem for me. over load a small area, and it could be a problem.
my squash did well, and some of my kale was huge. i spread the manure straw mix around the perimeter of plants keeping it away from direct contact or i till it into the soil during spring prep. just use caution with the fresh stuff until you figure out what works for you.


PureHarvest May 4, 2018 02:44 PM

Nathan, there are big differences in poultry waste products

I deal with poultry producers often in my line of work. We write nutrient management plans for them along with other planning stuff.

Your info is somewhat incomplete to make some decisions.

Hatcheries here only hatch the eggs, there are no layers on site. Their waste is dead chicks, egg shells, and feathers.

A egg layer operation whether for eating or hatching will be basically the same for broiler operations (meat birds).
Birds are in confinement, poop on a floor that has some level of wood shavings. The house is either crusted out or wind-rowed after each flock, and the resulting product is manure and litter (wood shavings). Due to not wanting to replace shaving often, most of the load is actual manure. Here, this product is typically put into a manure storage building that is roofed but open on one end. The pile can then decompose a little.
Typically, not a lot of decomposition occurs because the c:n ratio is not correct, because the load is high in N from manure and low in C from not a lot of wood.
This product is then spread onto farm fields. Some do it in fall, some in spring. A rough average here would be 2-3 ton per acre, so there is little chance for burning.
Ammonia volatilizes extremely fast if the manure is not worked into the top 1-2". You can lose 50% in a day.
Some states require manure be worked in within 24 hrs so this loss does not occur.
Layer manure will have much more calcium than broiler litter. This might be good or bad depending on your soil and how much you use per given area its spread on.
The take away is: is your pile wet (layer littler is sloppier, where broiler is dry)?
Is their a local lab (like here) that can test a sample (like $12 here)?
Do you have a test for your soil?
What is the sgft of your garden.

Without knowing some of that, you are kinda flying blind.

If I had broiler litter, I'd use 50 lbs per 1,000 sqft. This would give you 100 lbs of actual N per acre (broiler litter here is about 4% N). Only 50% of the N is available in the 1st year, so really you're getting 50 lbs.
Tomatoes need around 100-150 lbs of N, depending on soil type.
If you worked that into the top few inches, you could safely plant this season. The only reason you would not is because of bacteria. Below ground crops need 120 days (if i recall, might be 90) for bacteria to be killed by soil fauna for the produce to be safe. Above ground crops I think is 30 or 60, i dont recall. So for maters, you'd be safe due to the fruit being above ground typically after 60 days.
If the

nathan125 May 5, 2018 06:14 PM

Thanks for the info. The manure is mixed with some shavings, but not much. It is more dry than damp and smells foul. I mixed in some dried grass to help compost it.
It is most likely manure from hatching birds. I did find a stray bone or two from the pile.

Nan_PA_6b May 5, 2018 10:58 PM

It smells fowl?:shock: Of course it does!:lol:


nathan125 May 24, 2019 05:04 AM

I gave the manure a solid year and added it to my raised beds a month ago. So far doing fine, plants havent been burned. The ★★★★ smell is also gone. Thanks for the help everyone.

xellos99 May 24, 2019 05:56 AM

Unless it was free or very cheap I would use the dry 6X strength concentrated pellets instead.
Its ready to go, organic, smell is not too bad at all and you can store it till needed.

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