I know that most of my
readers have chickens at around the same scale I do — two or two
dozen birds to feed our families eggs and perhaps meat. At this
scale, chickens are an integral part of any permaculture system, mowing
fertilizing the garden, and even eating bad bugs. But what about
the larger chicken operations that provide most of the developed
world’s chicken meat and eggs? Do we harness the enormous
fertility coming out of these factory farms for good or for evil?
Unfortunately, the answer is
often the latter. As with any concentrated animal feeding
operation, industrial chicken facilities produce so much chicken poop
that it quickly reaches the waste category. The high phosphorus
content that helps your plants develop fruits in the garden seeps into
surrounding lakes and rivers and causes disastrous algal blooms.
Here in Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay is highly polluted by just such
chicken farm runoff.
While I believe that the
long term solution to this environmental catastrophe is to put our
families’ food production back into our own hands, there are solutions
at the industrial scale. Last week, we learned about two
intriguing uses for chicken waste — high quality compost and
biochar. Stay tuned for a post on each topic later in the week.
on a smaller scale? Our homemade chicken
waterer always stays