Integrated composting

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner.

For 6 years I’ve had a compost pile by the kitchen for all our compostable things, dinner scraps, paper towels, veggie tops, etc., which gradually fills up the bin every year until I take out the finished stuff in the spring.

I’ve already talked about how I also separately harvest the built up chicken bedding in the spring, and if I’m feeling especially responsible I’ll mix both composts together before applying the mix to my beds.

So basically I had two separate compost piles, and had to turn two each spring. Double the effort.

Why not combine the two?


Now probably most of you are shaking your heads at me because you had already figured this out for yourselves long ago – but it was a lightbulb moment for me.

Just throw all those scraps into the chicken run and let them compost and turn it for me. Plus, the chickens then devour anything edible and cut down on their own feed costs. So I built this little tip-out door. And I painted it purple, because win.


Sofía was already going out there every morning to open the gate for them and let them out into our forest anyway… and she is very capable of toting along a little half gallon bucket too, which we now store under the kitchen sink so she can reach it. Though I can’t say she loves doing it. And I can’t say I love listening to her whine about it every morning. 😛

As you can see above, we put everything** in there that we would normally chuck into the compost bin. Including paper towels (which we still use a few of), toilet paper rolls, chicken bones, egg shells, cheese rinds, and all the other composty bits that you amass every day in an active from-scratch type of house. The chickens sort through it all and get what they want; what they don’t want, they end up burying under the bedding leaves as they scratch around, which gets it composting for me. Win-win.

Are there chicken labor laws? Because I really love making them do all the work for me. (See? Laziness really is a practical design principal. Or at least a good motivator.)

** we do withhold all avocado (poisonous), chocolate (poisonous), anything truly spoiled (chickens can get food poisoning too), and coffee grounds (I’m guessing caffeine is probably not so good for chickens). Those still go into our kitchen compost bin – but with such little input, it’s going to take years to build up a substantial pile such that it becomes a task that I have to take care of.



2 Responses to “Integrated composting”

  1. Sam Says:

    I feed our chickens a lot of our compost stuff too. Not the paper stuff but the food stuff. They love it.

  2. Diana Guillermo Says:

    That is because you are smart. :) I felt so dumb for not figuring it out sooner!

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