Whether you buy it online; from a garden centre; or compost it yourself, all budding gardeners are aware of the importance of fertilising. The majority of us aren’t particularly keen on dousing our gardens in chemicals, so keeping it natural is the favoured option and what could be more natural than adding non-toxic animal waste as part of your fertilising regime? It’s cheap, readily available, organic and environmentally-friendly. What more could us green-fingered enthusiasts ask for in a fertiliser?
Chicken manure pellets are the crème de la crème when it comes to composted animal waste due to their impressive nutritional content – they’re rich in vital plant nutrients and humus (the organic component of soil). When compared to the manure of other animals, composted chicken faeces contains a higher amount of calcium, phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen – the key nutrients plants require for successful growth development.
Best Pick – Chicken Manure Pellets
- 100% natural fertilizer
- Made from traditional chicken manure
- Promotes healthy growth, good root development and proper drainage
As a result, chicken manure pellets are one of the best sources of organic fertiliser on the market and, when used as part of an effective fertilisation process, will enhance the growth and quality of lawns, flowers, vegetables, shrubs and trees whilst also conditioning the soil, improving its fertility and water-holding properties.
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Chicken manure pellets: the facts
- Chicken manure pellets are chicken manure which has been dried and converted into pelleted form so it can be easily integrated into the soil.
- Chicken manure pellets serve as a slow-release source of essential nutrients for the planting and feeding of established plants – nitrogen to promote green leafy growth; phosphorus for root development; and potassium for fruit and flower growth.
- The best chicken manure pellets will have been processed naturally to preserve its unique nutritional benefits..
- Poultry manure pellets are one of the most widely used organic fertilisers on the market
- Chicken manure pellets are easy to source and relatively inexpensive
- Chicken manure pellets are not suitable for use on ericaceous (acid-loving) plants
Why use Chicken Manure?
Chicken manure pellets are a popular alternative to chemical fertilisers but why exactly is this humble, unassuming, flightless bird’s poop so blinkin’ good?
- It’s organic
- It can be used on crops, fruit bushes, trees, lawns and flower beds
- It promotes strong, healthy plant growth
- It can be applied during all growth stages including pre-planting and to both new and established plants
- It has long-lasting benefits
- It’s bursting with natural, slow-releasing, plant nutrients
- It contains particularly high levels of nitrogen – the primary nutrient needed for optimum growth and is ideal for use on spring lawns and to feed leafy crops such as cabbage, courgette, sweet corn, rhubarb, and celery.
- It improves soil structure and fertility
- It contains high humus levels
- It’s readily available and inexpensive
- It’s sustainable
Types of animal manure compared
Just as humans need to consume a mix of food groups (protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins), plants also require a mix of nutrients.
The three key nutrients vital for growth are:
- Nitrogen (N) needed for leaf growth
- Phosphorus (P) for root growth and development
- Potassium (K) for fruit growth
|Nutritional values of manure|
|Animal||Nitrogen %||Phosphorus %||Potassium %|
Chicken manure pellets and ericaceous plants
Several factors can affect the the pH level of chicken manure:
- The age of the manure
- Diet of the bird
- Age of the bird
- Bedding material used
The pH scale measures how acidic or alkaline water-based solution is and ranges from 0-14, with 7 being neutral, less than 7 acidic, and greater than 7 alkaline.
Most chicken manure is in the range of pH 6.5 – 8.0.
Due to the likelihood of alkalinity, chicken manure pellets should not be used on ericaceous plants (plants which don’t like growing in soils that contain lime and so require acidic-neutral soils of pH7 or lower) such as rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, pieris, blueberries, Japanese maples and sun-flowering heathers
- Composted chicken manure pellets
- Ideal for soil enrichment and improvement
- Use for feeding all around the garden
- Fertiliser NPK: 4.5-3.5-2.5
Why chicken manure pellets are great for your soil
|Chicken manure pellets…||This..||Benefit(s)|
|Are high in organic matter||Increases the soil’s ability to retain water||Improves drainage; slows down the rate of erosion; enhances soil structure and reduces the likelihood of leaching|
|Serve as a great source of soil microbes||Improves biological diversity||Speeds up the process of the nutrients reaching their intended destination – your plants!|
How and when to apply chicken manure pellets
Unless you have a larger-than-average garden, manual shovel application using a hand trowel or spade should provide sufficient coverage; for bigger areas, a lawn spreader is likely to be a more efficient distribution method. Be sure to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines to determine the spread rate of the pellets before you begin.
General guidance for manual application
|Reason for application||Method|
|Soil preparation (pre-planting)||Around 7-10 days prior to planting, sprinkle the chicken manure pellets evenly over the soil of beds and borders, then mix well. During dry weather, water regularly.|
|To fertilise established plants||During the growing season (between March and August), sprinkle the chicken manure pellets evenly over the soil surrounding any established plants. Work it into the soil gently by using a hand fork taking care not to disturb the roots. Water generously. Repeat the process every 4-6 weeks,|
When to apply chicken manure pellets
In terms of when to apply chicken manure pellets, as early as possible after winter when the soil starts warming is best, ideally between February to November: some key nutrients won’t make their presence known until the temperature of the soil increases in late spring/summer.
For fertilising existing plants, chicken manure pellets should be applied every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.
When it comes to releasing all of their nutritional content and seeing results, chicken manure pellets might not work quite as quickly as some of the best-selling chemical fertilisers, however the end-product really is worth waiting for and the natural slow-release of organic nutrients will keep your plants flourishing for longer.
On the whole, chicken manure pellets are regarded as safe to use as they will have been subject to stringent sterilisation during the manufacturing process however, as is the case with the majority of organic fertilisers, there is a small chance the pellets may be found to contain traces of potentially harmful bacteria and pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella, which have unavoidably found their way into the manure and remained active throughout the sterilisation process.
Be sure to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines of a specific product prior to using and, just as we would advise with any fertiliser, it’s best to take a few simple, easy-to-follow precautionary steps in order to keep yourself safe.
- Avoid breathing in the dust of chicken manure pellets
- Refrain from eating and smoking while handling chicken manure pellets
- When handling chicken manure pellets, always wear good-quality gloves to avoid contact
- Ensure raw vegetables or edible plants which have been grown in pellet-treated areas are washed thoroughly prior to handling
- Those of us susceptible or vulnerable to foodborne illnesses such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and chills should avoid eating uncooked vegetables from manured gardens, as should pregnant women, infants, and sufferers of cancer, kidney failure, liver disease, diabetes or AIDS
Fresh chicken poop V chicken manure pellets
You could use fresh chicken faeces as fertiliser on your garden beds and borders but we wouldn’t advise it. Not only does it look unsightly and have a somewhat pungent odour, it’s also likely you’ll find you’re unknowingly attracting unwanted vermin visitors to your garden such as rats, mice and foxes!
Surprisingly, fresh, wet chicken feces is also much lower in some key nutrients than dried poultry manure, and can actually damage your lawn and plants if used without sterilisation! Poop straight out of the chicken is also highly likely to be contaminated with foreign bodies such as feathers, coop bedding and urine, which can scorch both lawns and plants, burning the roots.
To play it safe, go for chicken manure pellets which will have been through a lengthy ageing process and been subject to intense heat sterilisation during the manufacturing.
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Frequently Asked Questions
The impressive potassium and nitrogen levels present in free-range chicken manure pellets makes poultry manure the ideal choice when it comes to fertilising tomato plants. The pellets can be spread around the plants at any stage of growth, but the best time to apply is when the first buds begin to appear on the stems.
Fresh chicken manure is indeed high in nitrogen – the nutrient required for green, leafy growth – however, raw poultry faeces is likely to contain bacteria that can potentially be harmful to humans, as well as being unpleasant to transport and handle. Consequently, chicken manure pellets tend to be the most popular method of poultry fertilisation as these will have been heat sterilised thoroughly during the manufacturing process, but are still rich in nutritional content.