Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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Composting chicken guts

Gathering feathersBack when we started raising our own broilers, Mark and I had a difference of opinion about what to do with the guts and heads.  I wanted to toss them down the outhouse hole, figuring why dig an extra hole in a random location when we'd already decided to consolidate high nitrogen waste near the roots of fruit trees.  Mark thought it was disrespectful to poop on top of decapitated chicken heads, and he was also worried about smell (a problem with our outhouse 1.0).

The way our marriage works, if we disagree and both feel strongly about the matter, we table it until one or the other of us changes our minds.  On the other hand, if one feels strongly and the other doesn't, the former generally wins.  (This is an excellent way to keep a marriage together, if not the best way to get things done.)  Since Mark cared more than I did about the chicken waste (and since he was going to be the one digging the extra holes), we buried our chicken guts, feathers, and heads for a couple of years.

Composting toiletThis summer, I snuck a composting toilet onto our farm.  Mark felt pretty strongly that he didn't want to be handling human waste, but I talked him around by redesigning the structure so no one will be touching fecal matter until it has decomposed for at least a year.  Finding a source of sawdust made the composting toilet a much easier sell since the structure now meant that not only would Mark no longer have to dig holes to China (outhouse holes), but also that our manure would be covered with a high carbon layer that would keep down smells and flies.

Composting chicken wasteNow I was ready to reopen the issue of composting the waste from our broilers, and I was happy to discover that Mark no longer felt strongly about the issue of combining chicken remains with human manure.  I think several years of farming has changed the idea of high nitrogen inputs from "waste" to "nutrient source" for both of us, and we were just concerned that the meaty compost would attract critters.  So Mark screwed an extra board to the side of the composting toilet as a temporary barrier and I topped the feathers and heads off with extra sawdust, and the problem was solved.  No more waste stream!

Our chicken waterer makes it easy to raise healthy chickens on pasture since it never spills.

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