A rich dark compost from chook manure for our permaculture gardens

Chook poo hot compost

Chook poo hot compost

The Chook manure and sawdust pile

Some time ago Tom spend a considerable amount of time concreting the floors in our chook pens, where our chooks sleep at night. We cover the concreted floors with sawdust, which is emptied out regularly and replaced with fresh sawdust for our little egg producers.

Tom had a happy accident the other day. After removing the chook manure soaked sawdust mix from the concreted chook sheds he decided that, instead of leaving it to decompose slowly in a pile for maybe 6 months, he would add some more sawdust to it and wet it to see if it would hot compost.
The chook manure compost pile, watered and covered with some old carpet.
He was very happy to see the temperature went up, topping 60 degrees C and that it had distinct fungal activity!
Temperature rising over 60 degrees C
Fungal Activity in the Chook Manure compost
There was great colour change and he used an 18 day time acceleration, turning the compost every couple of days. We had beautiful, usable compost in just 18 days!
Turning the Chook Manure Compost every couple of days
However, when Tom  tried to do it again some weeks later with another batch,  it didnt heat up. The temperature went only to 38 degrees C  and he thinks that there was maybe too much sawdust this time (too much carbon). Visual fungi was really low.  But we won’t give up, we will try to judge how many days or weeks is ideal to have the sawdust in the chook pen, so that it is still good for the chooks but will also make beautiful compost! Looking forward to the next sawdust changeover!

Look at this beautiful compost, ready to use after 18 days, made from just sawdust and chook (chicken) manure….

©2012 Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast – Chook poo hot compost for permaculture gardens


  1. Hello Sir,

    At our home, we have terrace garden, we use plastic drums for potting, we made many holes for it around for arieation, we placed coconut husk at base.

    For potting mix we used the following combination in the ratio of 2:2:1:1:1/4

    2- cocopeat
    2- cow manure or biodynamic compost in few
    1- red soil
    1- sawdust
    1/4- ash

    Cocopeat we used for water absorption and for weight management since on terrace.
    Sawdust, was available with us near by, so we used to manage resource and substituting cocopeat to some extant.

    Though we enquired and came to know it has high carbon in CN ratio 500:1. We were assuming that if we can use cocopeat which has upto 200:1 CN ratio, we can balance it by putting green matter.

    We have setup one biodigester for our kitchen waste and started putting diluted slurry for plants in our potting mix.

    We have assumed that this will balance CN ratio of sawdust in our pot mix.

    But we failed in our assumption and found very slow or no growth in plants. Specially we found no root growth.
    So on our terrace we planned to fix this and spreaded plastic sheet under shade and poured the potting mix making layers of potting mix, fresh cowdung diluted thick in consistency, then green leaves then cowdung, repeated like this to three layers and in between we sprinkled BioDynamic CPP culture and left for More than month. In between to test we took deeper layer of soil and tried to see the response in plant growth. But there was no change. No growth at all.

    Can you please suggest any solution to fix the problem with our potting mix.

    What we have found all the time is that we are not able to get full knowledge and even practice experience in many steps.

    Please comment.


  2. Hi Shailender, it sounds like you have done a lot of input for little return.
    My thoughts are that first the materials havent been able to compost , they havent had enough time, and also there seems to be a lot of nitrogen though this would possibly have given lots of leafy growth which you havent got, so my other thought is that there isnt enough soil. Soil is your mineral bank, lots of compost is great. Plant food! However there also needs to be an ecology that will be with the soil and the minerals therein.
    I myself prefer to create my compost away from my plants giving time for the process to mature and then add it to my garden/plants.
    If im composting in situ then i will mulch over the top and wait for the process to finish then plant in.
    I hope this helps

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