I used to have a few different sources of fertility for the garden. One compost pile for fall leaves, one for kitchen scraps, and then the every-so-often cleanout of the chicken coop. I’d have to fill them all individually, only to later re-harvest them and mix them together before spreading them on the garden. What a chore.
We’ve always kept all our kitchen scraps and leftovers in a little bucket under the kitchen sink. Every night I used to go outside to dump it into the outdoor compost bin, which didn’t always smell so great and wasn’t always wonderful to have right next to the kitchen door.
So why not consolidate the chickens and the compost?
I made this tip-in door. Every morning when my 7-year-old goes down to let the chickens out she takes the little bucket with her and dumps in all the kitchen scraps we’ve accumulated in the past day.
The chickens gobble down all the food, so there are no scraps left over to attract unwanted critters. It reduces our feed bill and gives the chickens a more rounded diet. It prevents food waste, since we can include the meat and dairy scraps that we can’t in regular compost. The chickens also do a good job of seeking out all the seeds, which is great nutrition for them and helps generate a much cleaner compost.
Because oh yeah, that’s the best part: the chickens naturally turn it all into compost for me, which pretty much eliminates my need for a regular kitchen door compost pile.
The chickens love it – they even come running now when they hear me jiggle the tip-in latch! And every morning, as soon as they see someone emerge from the house, they all run to the tip-in corner and mill around, super excited. They’re more excited about their special treat food than they are about going out their now-open door and getting out of the coop.
We haven’t completely gotten rid of our old kitchen-door bin – but we only need it about once every couple weeks, if that. We have to have a way to deal with chocolate & avocados (which the chickens shouldn’t eat) and actually rotten food (did you know chickens can suffer from e.coli, salmonella, and botulism just like humans?) But in the year or more that I’ve had this tip-in door, that old bin is still only about halfway full.
I love finding ways to work less.