Compost plus chickens equals winInspired by Karl Hammer’s Compost-Chicken Hybrid system in Vermont, we began creating a compost pile inside our portable bird pen using food scraps collected from local restaurants and grocery stores. The chickens not only get to eat the fresh veggie scraps we dump on top of the compost pile every other day, but once those are eaten, they dig into the pile to harvest all the insect decomposers and other goodies that the compost pile generates. For 70+ birds (chickens, ducks etc) we only had to supplement them with about a pound of feed daily, and could probably go grain free if we had to, using this system.

We also dump leaves on the pile to help increase the carbon content, which helps keep the nitrogen in the veggies from leaching away. The leaves also eliminate smells. In addition to feeding our birds a nutritious and diverse diet, the compost pile will help improve the soil on our pasture. Next year we’ll probably plant some bird fodder trees and plants into the old compost pile that will produce even more bird food inside the bird pen; such as mulberry, pea shrub, comfrey, alfalfa, oats, buckwheat, sorrel, lambsquarter and more!

Big thanks to Bay Area Recycling for Charities for allowing us to tap into the abundance of food waste they collect!