Can I put chicken manure on my garden?

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All types of manure, other than poultry manure, are permitted to be applied to gardens at any time.

Poultry manure is different because it is very high in nitrogen, and as it decomposes it gives off ammonia gas (NH3). Also, if manure from chickens, whether in a home or commercial setting is not well managed, it can attract large numbers of flies. Both ammonia and flies can become a human, animal and environmental health concern.

Commercially derived (from a chicken farm) untreated poultry manure is prohibited for use within the City of Swan under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (Stable Fly) Management Plan 2013.

Chicken manure from residential backyard chickens may be used in the garden but it is recommended you first compost the manure to ‘treat’ it. Apart from the flies and ammonia issues, untreated chicken manure is too ‘strong’ to be applied to plants and can even burn them.

Composting chicken manure can be done in several ways, the key points being to combine the manure with a large volume of carbon-rich matter such as wood shavings, and some water and air. It can be useful to place a Gedye composting bin in your chicken yard (even an old plastic rubbish bin can be modified for this purpose) so that manure removed from the chicken coop and yard may be conveniently placed in it and the lid put on the top. Adding carbon-rich matter and ‘stirring’ with a compost mixing tool to aerate it will speed up the process.

The composting may take two to six months depending on the method of composting used and how well you manage it. Once the material has broken down to a nice consistent texture and brown colour, and no longer smells bad (good compost has a sweet earthy smell), it is suitable to use on the garden.