I love our school chickens, they are incredibly social birds as they grew up with the yr 3/4 kids last year and are always bright and chirpy when I arrive in the garden. We are currently undertaking to upgrade their quarters. We aim to add more Cob to the coop, extend their roof space, get a gutter to catch water from their roof and have roofed the coop to keep out the cockatoos and pidgins that were pinching all their seed.
The second and most major improvement we will make to the coop will be to set it up to run a deep bedding system. Deep bedding systems let the animal bedding pile up so that it builds the mass to allow it to begin to compost in the coop.
Chickens produce very hot manure because it is a mix of both manure and urine. This means that the Carbon : Nitrogen ratio is very low as . For optimal composting you want about 25 – 30:1. ~Thirty parts carbon to one part nitrogen. If the Carbon : Nitrogen ratio is very high (excess carbon) there is not enough protein for the micro-oganisms to function and decomposition slows down. If the Carbon : Nitrogen ratio is low, then there is an excess of nitrogen and the microbes do not get enough carbohydrate and things really start to stink.
This ratio does not mean that when you have a kilo of kitchen scraps that you need 30 kilos of hay. Rather the mix that most people come two is two parts green matter to one part brown. For our purposes it means that if the chickens coop becomes smelly it needs some more carbon to act as a sponge and soak up the excess nitrogen. If we get this right we can keep adding to the bedding that is in the chicken run and when we pull it out it will be part way towards soil.
Composting done right doesn’t smell and the chickens allow us a great way to covert scraps to soil. Hopefully we can get the deep bedding system set up soon by building a small brick wall around the edge of the chicken coop which will let the bedding pile up.