A Sustainable Closed Loop Eco-System (or The Cycle of Poop!)

We try to live as sustainably as possible. We make use of as many things produced on the smallholding as possible and that includes all of the poop that the chickens produce. We like to call it “Black Gold”. Yes, that’s right….chicken poop is an asset for a sustainable smallholding.

We were recently asked what we wished we’d had known before keeping chickens and our answer was simply “how much poop the small body of a chicken can produce”! That excessive amount of poop is incredibly valuable to us. It is very nutritious for the soil. You may already buy a pelleted version from your local garden centre or plant nursery for your vegetables and flowers. We process the poop in a far less sophisticated way. 

This how it starts with a bucket and a child’s garden rake. The rake is perfect for hooking under the poop and lifting it into the bucket.

We transfer it into an old waterbutt in our compost area that was no longer water-tight. Just like the poop the waterbutt got a new lease of life.

There’s a hole in the lid where a downpipe would have drained water into it and we’ve added some extra holes drilled around the base. These give the chicken poop good air circulation helping it to rot down.

This is where the poop stays for between 12 and 18 months to complete the rotting process. At that point it’s a concentrated black sludge (sorry!). 

It doesn’t look TOO bad does it?

Getting it out of the waterbutt is quite difficult as the weight is enormous but once it’s out what an asset it is!

We’ve been adding it to our greenhouse soil directly underneath where our tomato plants will be planted. To be fair when I say “we”, I actually mean Hugh. Hugh’s done all of the heavy work digging a deep trench and added the rotted chicken poop before backfilling the soil.

Tomatoes are very hungry plants and this rich, nutritious manure is perfect to help them produce beautiful large and tasty fruits.

We always plant tomatoes straight into the soil around the walls of one of our greenhouses and we put some spares into buckets in the central area. The idea with the buckets is that if any of the tomatoes around the edge don’t do well we can easily replace it with a plant from one of the buckets without any damage to the roots.

So where’s the closed loop in the closed loop eco-system? Well, guess who gets to enjoy a lot of the tomatoes? Yes, you’ve guessed it…THE CHICKENS producing yet more poop for next year.

See more of our sustainable lifestyle in videos on our YouTube channel

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