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Should You Put Your Compost Bin in the Chicken Run?

Want to know a secret?  It will improve the quality of your compost, speed up composting time, and aerate your compost bin.  Plus it will provide fresh supplements to your chickens diet without causing any additional work from you!  Set up your compost bin in the chicken run

Will chickens eating compost make them sick? Will it hurt or help the compost? Find out if a compost bin in the chicken run is right for you.

Absolutely put your compost bin in the chicken run!

My chickens LOVE to raid my compost.  Before I put the bin into their run they would escape just to go look for snacks.  Not only do they love eating kitchen scraps out of the compost, they love digging around for red wrigglers.  

First, this reduces the amount of “greens” and helps balance my pile.  It also increases their protein and all the scratching helps the compost break down more.

There are a couple ways to do this.  One way is to pile everything in a big heap in a corner of the run.  This will probably break down the quickest.  Unfortunately, it will mostly likely be the messiest as the chickens will spread everything around.  If you don’t have a lot of space, or if you like things spic and span use an enclosed bin that the chickens can hop into.  

Dump all your scraps directly onto the top bin, or set them aside in a bowl or bucket to go out to the chickens.  If you have problems with rodents, opt for the bowl method.  This way you can set it out for a short period of time, and then bury any remnants deep into the middle of the pile.

If you don’t have your compost bin in your chicken run you can still feed them kitchen scraps, but it’s extra work for you.  I can just dump any leftovers from the bowl into the top of the compost.  When they hear the metal clang, the chickens come running to re-investigate.  Then all that enthusiasm turns the pile and aerates it for me.

You can also use your chickens to spread your compost.

Another work saving way is to put your compost bin over the area of your garden that you want to improve.  Pull the bin away and let the chickens spread it out over the garden bed and do the work for you.  Composting in place means you don’t have to haul it all over the place.  Unless you like hauling, but I know I don’t.

You can feed your kitchen scraps to your goats too.

My goats and chickens share a run so any treats I give the chickens the goats come to investigate too.  If there is something my goats can’t have that I want to feed the chickens [such as egg shells or cat food for extra protein] I put it separate in the chicken house.  That doesn’t happen very often.  

Usually the goats are more than happy to leave meat scraps for the birds and just pick out things like banana peels and the occasional treat bread crust.

Fiasco Farms has a long list of plants that are toxic for goats.  Both goats and chickens should not eat nightshades.  This includes potatoes, tomatoes, and  eggplants.  Also avoid avocados, apple seeds, rhubarb, pits from fruits like peaches and nectarines, chocolate, onions, or any garden weeds sprayed in pesticides.

For more information about what chickens should or should not, check out the post, Why I Don’t Feed My Chickens Bread.

You really should separate these out, and bury them into the compost bin out of reach.  I’ve noticed for MY birds (not that yours will be the same) they have enough variety in their diet that they will leave the stray onion skins and potato peels in the bottom of the bowl if I forget about those.

So there you have it, let your chickens compost for you!  Where do you keep your compost bin?

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Sunday 14th of May 2017

Our chickens are let out of their night coop when we get up in the morning. They spend most of the day in their fenced in area, maybe 100 square feet. There are a few trees and bushes in there for shade and hiding from hawks. The soil is pretty much bare, having pulled up all the weeds every year. I collect as many bags of Fall leaves and pine needles. I stop everywhere on trashday, to steal their bag with gathered leaves etc on the curb. I am more leary picking up bags with mowed grass clippings, worry about any chemicals. The girls have plenty of scratching to do in all that litter, it gets mixed real good, lot of poop gets added and maybe they will find some worms, all good stuff. Hopefully after they laid their eggs, i let them out, for more scavenging and pecking at the greenery all around. Eventually, after it becomes compost, we can bring the wheelbarrow and scoop up all we need for the vegetable garden mostly, some for flowerbeds too. Kitchen compost is split between the chickens and stuff they can t eat or not interested in, is composter in giant barrel


Monday 15th of May 2017

Nice. My chickens love to scratch through tons of leaves too.


Tuesday 2nd of February 2016

Congratulations on being featured on the Homestead Blog Hop this week! We loved your post and hope to see you back again tomorrow. Sharing! :-)

Kathryn @ Farming My Backyard

Thursday 4th of February 2016

Awesome! Thanks so much!

Nancy @ Little Homestead in Boise

Sunday 31st of January 2016

Great idea in your climate! I've seen that done before. We live in high desert and have to keep ours in the shade. We used to live in SE Portland and that's one WET climate :) 1/10th of an acre is small so good for you doing what you can! Nancy@LIttlehomesteadinBoise

Kathryn @ Farming My Backyard

Sunday 31st of January 2016

Thanks! Oh yes, my parents are in Southern California and they have a whole different set of issues to contend with than we do here in rainy Oregon. :)


Monday 25th of January 2016

This is a wonderful idea. I will use it next spring and save myself a lot of work.


Kathryn @ Farming My Backyard

Monday 25th of January 2016

I hope it works out as well for you as it has for me. :)

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