Digging for “Black Gold”

Chicken manure being bagged at Chip-in Farm for fall fertilizing

Many gardeners call manure “black gold” due to its incredible ability to enrich soil. It supplies nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients for plant growth. Manure also increases soil water holding capacity, enables slow nutrient release, and promotes beneficial organism growth.


Not All Manure is Equal


Although all herbivore manures supply plants with nutrients, at Chip-in we believe that chicken manure provides some unique advantages:


Nitrogen Content


As a key component of chlorophyll and amino acids, nitrogen is required for healthy plant growth. Chicken manure contains almost 3 times the nitrogen content of cow manure. This means less chicken manure much be purchased and applied for similar results.


Comparison of Nitrogen Concentration – Cow vs. Chicken Manure

Herbivore Nitrogen Content Pounds to achieve 0.2 lb/100 sq ft nitrogen
Cow 0.3% 200 lbs
Chicken 1.1% 70 lbs

Sources: University of Wisconsin; Old Farmer’s Almanac 


Weed Seeds


Chicken manure generally does not contain weed seeds. This is because the chicken’s digestive tract, specifically the gizzard, efficiently digests and destroys them.


When grazing animals eat weeds the seeds pass undigested through cow and horse gastrointestinal tracts and are present in their manure, which may lead to weed growth once the manure is applied.


Source: University of Missouri


Benefits of Fall Application


Fall is a great time to apply manure. Because nitrogen in manure is released to plants slowly – 30-50% of it becomes available during the first year – it enriches the soil over the winter. Also, cool soil temperatures help to optimize nitrogen utilization by preventing “nitrification”, or loss of nitrogen into the atmosphere. Source: University of Minnesota


Tips for Using Chicken Manure




Usually, one application a year is sufficient. It is best to apply it before forecasted rain as the water will help the odor dissipate more quickly. Manure should always be applied to vegetable plantings at least 90 days before harvest.


How to apply


For lawns, broadcast over the surface and rake to spread out and work into the topsoil.


For vegetable and flower gardens, apply the manure on top of the existing soil and hoe or spade it 6 – 8 inches into the soil.


When applying manure to established shrubs and perennials, spread the manure around the plants, keeping 3 – 4 inches away from the base of the plant, then water thoroughly.


How much to apply


Apply to vegetable gardens at a rate of 1 bag per 100 sq ft and to flowers, lawns or shrubs at a rate of 1 bag per 300 sq ft.


Chicken Manure Q&A


When purchasing chicken manure at Chip-in Farm, here are some answers to frequently asked questions:


How much does the manure cost?

Chicken manure is $9.00/bag.


Is chicken manure available for a limited time?

We have a substantial supply of manure and expect it to be available through mid-November.

We bag manure frequently, so if you visit and we are out of stock please check back again.


Can I reserve a few bags?

We are unable to set bags aside but please be assured that we have a lot of manure and will be bagging daily throughout the fall.


Can I return empty bags?

Unfortunately, we cannot reuse them so please discard them.


How much do the bags weigh?

Each bag weighs about 50 pounds.


Will someone be available to help load the manure into my car?

It is best to bring someone with you that can handle the 50 lb. bags since due to labor shortages there is not always someone at the farm that can do it.

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