Urban Food Garden

Placing Compost Bins In The Chicken Run

If you have chickens, then arguably the best position for your compost bins is in the chicken run as chickens do a marvelous job in breaking down organic matter. 

Benefits of compost bins in the chicken run

Gardening books often talk about the need to turn the contents of a compost bin over several times during the composting process to aid the breakdown of the organic matter.  However, most gardeners rarely turn their compost in their bins, which often results in compost of an uneven quality.  But if chickens are allowed access to your compost bins they will turn the compost over hundreds of times during the composting process as they scratch for worms and other food. By doing this they make a wonderfully fine compost as even tough plant material is literally torn apart by their actions. Not only do the chickens help break down organic matter they remove many of the weed seeds in the material.  And as they scratch, they also manure the compost with their faeces.  When I moved my compost bins into the chicken run I noticed a distinct improvement in the quality of my compost.

It also removes the need to sort food scraps that the chickens would eat from compostable green waste, just throw the whole lot in the compost bin you are filling and let the chickens sort it out.  What they don’t eat will be turned into compost.

Ideally the chicken run should be next to the main vegetable patch.  That way you get both the benefits of the chickens scratching at the compost in the bins and a short as possible distance to cart your green waste from the vegetable patch to the bins.

Potential Problems Of Compost Bins In A Chicken Run

If you have your compost bins in the chicken run you need to be careful about what you place in them as there are a number of plants and foodstuffs that are poisonous or potentially harmful to chickens.  The list includes: –


Some of the plants that are poisonous to chickens are daffodils, foxglove, morning glory, tulips, lily of the valley, azaleas, rhododendron, and tansy.

Potentially harmful

Things that may have adverse health outcomes in large amounts include avocado skin, edible food containing salt, sugar, coffee, or alcohol, raw green potato skins, mouldy food and the leaves of rhubarb, potato, or tomato plants.

However, I have found that well fed adult chickens instinctively avoid plants and foodstuffs that are poisonous for them, I routinely place things such as rhubarb, potato and tomato leaves in my chicken run compost bins without any visible ill effect.  But be aware that everything placed in compost bins that chickens can access has the potential to be poisonous to them, if you  are planning to put your compost bins in your chicken run then it might be worthwhile familiarising yourself with the poisonous plants in your garden.

I have found that well fed adult chickens instinctively avoid plants and foodstuffs that are poisonous for them.

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  • Improves the quality of the compost.
  • Reduces the amount of weed seeds.
  • Removes the need to sort food scraps from compostable green waste.
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  • Rrsks harming the health of your chickens if poisonous plants and foodstuffs are placed in the bins.