It starts like any day. Everyday. She wakes up at 6 am. Gets out of bed and walks to the backyard, half asleep, yet deep down is an excitement. The joy that’s about to unfold. The bundles of fluff balls are waiting anxiously, feathery. Their heads pop up and down. Each moves back and forth in their cage. They make eye contact, and the excitement intensifies. Cluck, cluck, cluck. She lifts the handle lock on the walk-in run we set up for the birds. Clank. Clank. They hear the sound and jump with joy and excitement. It gets louder. Cluck, cluck, cluck.
She’s going to let the little buggers out of their coop. It’s filled with straw and hay that we laid down to give them a soft place to peck around, scratch, and otherwise live their lives. We call it the chicken castle. And it’s marvelous.
We’ve been locking them up at night because we’ve been having opossum and raccoon sightings the last few nights. We put Arlo wireless cameras all over the backyard—motion activated—to catch the action and to know what the predators are doing. Call us crazy. It’s ok.
She adjusts one of the cameras and takes a step into the coop. It’s the first step, one she takes every day. A predictable step, the kind you always take with confidence. But this time, it’s different. She steps directly on a huge pile of shit this time, and … Slip! Fall! Splat! Squish!
This may not be your story yet, but it will be soon enough. Backyard chicken ownership comes with its own set of tales, each a badge of honor, a rite of passage. These stories testify to chicken owners’ commitment and love for their feathered friends. The stories make up the fabric of the backyard chicken community, a unifying bond that says, “I am a proud backyard chicken owner.” So let’s dive headfirst into the fascinating world of chicken shit and see what it has in store.
Chickens shit a lot.
How much? On average, a chicken produces about three to four ounces of shit per day. Chickens are one of the most regular animals on the planet, taking a squat roughly every thirty minutes. That’s quite the digestive system compared to humans.
Now, let’s say you have six chickens. You’re going to get about 24 ounces of shit per day. That’s 168 ounces per week, 705 ounces per month, and 8,464 ounces per year. Imagine being so deep in shit, weighing as much as a riding lawnmower, a refrigerator, or a commercial washing machine. For many, that’s so much shit it’s up to your eyebrows.
But wait, it gets even more interesting. A chicken has one of the most interesting excretory systems in the animal kingdom. Chickens defecate, urinate, lay eggs, and mate using the same hole. Yep, you heard it right. Chickens have a multi-functional orifice that acts as a one-stop shop for all their waste and reproductive needs. How about that for efficiency.
How does that happen? The unique design of a chicken’s reproductive and excretory system allows all waste and reproductive material to be expelled through the cloaca. The cloaca is a specialized chamber that receives waste from the gut and eggs and semen from the reproductive tract. This all-in-one setup allows chickens to efficiently manage their waste and reproductive needs while freeing up internal real estate for other critical bodily functions. It’s truly a marvel of nature and a testament to the efficiency of the avian body.
And, oh boy, do they shit everywhere. Wherever they are at the time, which may include their coop, run, and nesting areas. Here are some shitty questions and answers.
Do chickens shit where they eat?
Chickens may occasionally shit in or near their food and water dishes, mainly if confined to a small area without adequate space to move around. Watch for this, and clean their food and water regularly.
Do they walk in their shit?
Yes, they walk in their shit if it is not cleaned up regularly, leading to health issues and attracting parasites and predators.
Do they eat chicken shit?
Not usually. But occasionally, they’ll peck at it, looking for undigested grains, insects, and other leftovers. It’s common.
Will they lay in shit?
Chickens will lay in their shit if it is not cleaned up regularly. It irks me when they have shit hanging from their butt feathers, so we occasionally give them a handy wipe. You may do this, too, as we do, if you don’t want to watch your chickens waddle around with clumps of poop attached to their butt.
Can you potty train a chicken?
I’ve heard that you can potty train them, similar to how you would like a dog. But not something I’m interested in. So good luck on this one.
What about chicken diapers?
I’ve seen Instagram and YouTube videos of chickens in people’s houses, wearing diapers. If that’s your thing, have at it. We brought two of our chickens into the house once to see what they do, and it was pretty interesting to see their curiosity kick in.
Chicken Shit Quality.
Now you’re probably wondering, what about the quality of the shit? At least now you are, let me tell you. Chicken shit is a fantastic natural fertilizer, containing high nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels. It’s perfect for enriching and adding nutrients that improve the structure of the soil. Chicken shit is so rich in nutrients that it’s often referred to as “black gold” by gardeners.
It’s also rich in calcium and helps neutralize the soil, making it more alkaline. If appropriately composted (more on that in a bit), chicken shit can be used as a natural insecticide, killing off harmful pests and keeping your plants healthy and thriving. So, next time you’re knee-deep in chicken shit, remember that it’s not just any old shit—it’s black gold for your garden!
The quality of chicken shit depends on the quality of their diet. It’s true! Chickens excrete what they consume, so if you want high-quality shit, you must feed your chickens high-quality food.
Imagine a fancy, five-star meal for your chickens with all the essential nutrients and ingredients they need to thrive. Their manure would be the equivalent of a Michelin-starred dish, perfect for your soil and plants.
But on the other hand, if you feed your chickens a low-quality diet filled with filler ingredients like corn and soy, their shit will be like a fast food burger. Not exactly the finest cuisine. It may still have some value as fertilizer, but it won’t have the same nutrients and benefits as the fancy chicken shit from a well-balanced diet.
“But I don’t have a garden!” That’s a bummer. There’s nothing like fresh veggies you grew yourself. I bet you’ll change your mind about the garden once you get some chickens. It becomes addictive. But that’s another book. Let’s get back to the shit that matters.
If you don’t have a garden, you’ll still deal with all kinds of shit. You can bag and throw it in the trash like any other household waste. I met owners who flush their chicken nuggets down the toilet, which gets processed through a septic system or municipal wastewater treatment plant. Not something I’d recommend. However, the option. Make sure it’s legal in your neighborhood if you decide it’s your preference.
Chicken shit is an excellent fertilizer for your yard, too. If you go this route, you’ll need to dilute the shit in a big old bucket of water. The general rule of thumb is to mix one part shit with ten parts water. Give it a good stir with a long stick. Using a watering can or sprayer, you can apply it to your grass. Do it before a good rain to get it to soak in. Make sure not to over-fertilize your lawn because the nitrogen in the poop can build up. Fertilize this method once or twice a year.
Another alternative is supporting a local farmer to see if they’ll take it. This is a good option if you want to avoid composting the manure and support local agriculture.
Chicken Shit Consistency.
Chicken shit is a hot topic, isn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to discuss the different consistencies of chicken poop? That’s what we’re going to talk about now.
Did you know that there are various types of chicken shit consistency? That’s right, not all chicken shit is created equal. You have your standard, run-of-the-mill poop, and then you have the occasional oddball that doesn’t quite fit the mold.
Let’s start with the basics. Normal chicken shit is firm and well-formed, with a slightly moist texture. This indicates that your chickens are healthy and their digestive system works correctly. If you notice that your chicken’s shit is becoming increasingly soft, it may indicate a diet that is too high in moisture.
Now, we move on to the next level of chicken shit consistency – the runny, watery kind. There will be a time when you’re spending some moments with your birds and one will squeeze out a big watery, squishy, squirt. Occasionally they’ll fire these like a rocket. You will be shocked at first. This poop is a cause for concern because it can indicate an issue with your chicken’s digestive system or a potential illness. Overfeeding them with too many fruits, lettuce, or spinach could be the culprit, due to the sugar and extra moisture. Don’t stress, it’s common. If you notice your chicken’s poop becoming increasingly runny, it’s time to take a closer look at their diet and change course.
Finally, we come to the thick, pasty poop. This poop is usually a sign that your chicken is not drinking enough water or is suffering from an intestinal blockage. If you notice this poop, taking action quickly is crucial to ensure your chicken’s health and well-being.
Chicken Shit Color.
If you’ve ever panicked after discovering a rainbow of colors in your coop, fear not. Your chickens’ poop can be a whole spectrum of hues, which doesn’t always mean disaster.
Sure, your birds’ poop is usually soft, brown, and mushy, but just like human poop, it can change based on their eating. So, don’t be surprised if you spot a funky green, yellow, or purple shade! It’s just your feathered friends having a little fun with their diet.
Now, let’s dive into the different colors and textures of chicken poop and what they might mean.
Green: Oh boy, green chicken poop. This is the color every chicken owner dream of seeing—just kidding! But in all seriousness, green chicken poop is usually a sign that your chickens have been munching on a lot of greens and grass, which is great for their digestion. So if you see greenish poop, it’s a good thing!
Brown: Brown is the color of “normal” chicken poop. It’s what you should expect to see daily. If you see brown poop, your chickens are healthy and happy, and it’s a good sign that everything is working as it should. These usually have a white cap on them, which is the urate (urine).
Yellow: Yellow chicken poop can mean a few different things. It could signify that your chicken is dehydrated and needs more water, or it could indicate a digestive issue. Either way, yellow poop is not ideal, and you should look closer to see what’s going on with your chickens. If your chicken has been eating lots of strawberries, corn, or squash, these could be causing the yellowish color. If it’s foamy it could indicate parasites.
Black: Pure black chicken poop is never a good sign. It’s a potential sign of internal bleeding, which several things, such as a parasite or a digestive issue, could cause. If you see a lot of black poop, you should take a closer look at what’s going on. However, if your chickens have been eating lots of blackberries, charcoal, or other dark foods, they may be the cause.
Red or orange: Red or orange chicken poop can also mean a few different things. It could be a sign that your chicken has been eating many red or orange fruits and vegetables, or it could indicate a digestive issue. Red could mean there’s blood in the poop. In either case, watching your chickens and seeing if their poop returns to normal is best. If not, a vet checkup might be in store.
White chicken poop indicates that your chickens are excreting a lot of calcium. This is usually good because your chickens get enough calcium to keep their bones strong. But if you see a lot of white poop, it’s best to check your chickens’ diet to ensure they’re not getting too much calcium, which can lead to other health issues. If your chicken’s shit has a white cap, it’s normal. The white component is uric acid, which is equivalent to urine in humans. The solid substance represents feces or the remains of digested food.
Chicken Shit Smell.
Oh, the smell of chicken shit. It’s a fragrance that can bring a smile to any farmer, poultry keeper, or just someone who has had the pleasure of experiencing it. But why does chicken shit smell so good, you might ask? Well, it’s simple. Chicken shit is a magical blend of manure, feathers, bedding, and feed meticulously crafted by Mother Nature to emit a delightful aroma. It’s like a bouquet of fresh flowers, only a million times better.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But it smells like poo! How could it possibly be enjoyable?” Well, let me tell you something. Something about the way it clings to your nostrils, seeping into every pore of your being, makes you feel so alive. It’s a heady mixture of ammonia and earthy scents that can’t be replicated. And don’t even get me started on how it sticks to your clothes and hair, lingering long after you’ve left the coop. It’s like a badge of honor, a testament to your love of chickens and all things poultry.
But let’s not forget the real reason why chicken shit smells so good. It’s a sign of a healthy flock. A happy and healthy chicken produces a lot of manure, which means they eat well, drinks enough water, and generally thrives. So, the next time you’re blessed with a waft of chicken shit, take a moment to bask in its glory and remember that it’s a sign of a thriving flock. And if anyone tries to tell you it smells terrible, remind them that it’s the scent of success and happiness.
Well, well, well, who would have thought that chicken shit wouldn’t smell as bad as everyone thinks it does? I mean, it’s chicken poop, and it should smell like a rotting dumpster, right? WRONG. I hate to break it to all you chicken poop haters out there. It’s not bad.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But what about the ammonia smell?” Well, my friend, that’s where the problem lies. You see, chicken poop does contain ammonia, but that’s only when it’s not managed correctly. If you keep your chicken coop clean, you won’t have any smell issues. It’s that simple.
Chicken Shit and Composting.
Let’s dive into the beautiful world of composting chicken shit. First things first, why bother composting chicken poop? Besides being a great way to reduce waste and create rich soil for your garden, composting chicken poop is also a natural way to control odors and flies in the coop. So, it’s not just good for the environment, it’s good for your nostrils too!
Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of composting chicken poop. You’ll need a compost bin, a composting thermometer, and a good compost recipe (we’ll get to that later). The basic idea of composting is to mix browns (carbon-rich materials like dried leaves, straw, or sawdust) and greens (nitrogen-rich materials like grass clippings, vegetable scraps, and chicken poop). The browns provide the carbon for the microbes to break down the greens and create heat. The compost should reach a temperature of at least 130°F (54°C) for several days to kill harmful bacteria.
When composting chicken poop, there are a few things to remember. Chicken poop is high in nitrogen and can be intense, so mixing it well with your browns is essential. A good rule of thumb is to use two parts brown to one part chicken poop. Also, be careful not to add too much chicken poop all at once, or the compost could get too hot and kill off the good microbes.
Now, for the compost recipe. You’ll want to start with a layer of browns on the bottom of your compost bin, then add a layer of chicken poop, followed by a layer of greens, and so on. Keep turning the compost daily to aerate and help it break down faster. In about three to six months, you’ll have rich, dark, and crumbly compost ready to use in your garden.
And there you have everything you need to know about composting chicken shit. It’s not rocket science, but it takes patience and a lot of good-natured humor. So, embrace the chicken poop, have fun, and enjoy the fruits of your labor in beautiful and abundant gardens!
Well, folks, we’ve come to the end of the journey of the chicken shit chapter. I hope you’ve learned a thing or two about chicken shit and maybe even had a chuckle or two along the way.
The article is a chapter from our book. Keep reading the chapters below.
- Backyard Chickens: The Beginners Guide
- Chapter 1: Raising Chickens in Your Backyard. Pros, Cons, Costs
- Chapter 2: Chicken Coops. Components, Buying, Building
- Chapter 3: Chicken Breeds for Beginners. Where to Start
- Chapter 4: Baby Chicks. Everything You Need to Know
- Chapter 5: Feeding and Watering Chickens Ultimate Guide
- Chapter 6: Chicken Health and Hygiene: The Master Guide
- Chapter 7: Chicken Eggs. The Incredible Edible Egg!
- Chapter 8: Chicken Psychology and Behaviors
- Chapter 9: Chicken Shit. Quality, Consistency, Color, Smell