Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Muck heap/ composting  (Read 2957 times)


  • Joined Sep 2014
Muck heap/ composting
« on: January 16, 2017, 09:26:51 am »
The last 2 years of keeping pigs, hens and sheep we've built up a small muck heap. We only keep a few lambs and pigs in the summer for meat. But are hoping to expand and maybe breed our own one day.
We want to try and build a system which would let us utilise the waste ploughing it back into our land, as we don't really have any other way of disposal.
Our thinking is build a structure with 3 compartments. Fill 1 on year 1, 2 on year 2 etc. By year 4, the first pile would be sufficiently rotted to spread over the ground. And start again.
We use straw bedding for 4 legged animals and wood shavings for hens.
I have absolutely no idea if this would work and would appreciate folks thoughts.
Is 3 years sufficient to kill any worm eggs etc.
Would the pig poo increase the copper if it's been left to rot for 3 years. I know mixing pigs/lambs can cause issues with copper poisoning.
Any other potential issues I haven't thought of?

Thanks folk......


  • Joined Feb 2016
  • Turriff
Re: Muck heap/ composting
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2017, 09:56:31 am »
If your planning on ploughing it down then one year should be sufficient. 


  • Joined Sep 2014
Re: Muck heap/ composting
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2017, 10:18:59 am »
Poor use of words there. I didn't actually mean ploughing it in. More spreading it on top!! Possibly using the rotivated to work it in to the top layer.


  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
Re: Muck heap/ composting
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2017, 10:32:23 am »
We did this a few years ago and then power harrowed it and sowed barley, grew quite well, albeit the rabbits  :rant:
WE use straw for the animals bedding, although only muck we used was extremely composted pig manure with composted buffalo manure. Chicken manure is good, when rotted down, or so I have heard, but avoid duck poo, as it is too acidic. :)
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.


  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Muck heap/ composting
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2017, 12:28:55 pm »
We found that composting poo to get it finely broken down with no worms or odour required two years with a turning for aeration in the middle. So fill bay number 1 and at the end of the year move it to 2 and fill 1. End of next year spread 2, move 1 to 2 and start filling 1 again. It helps if you have a third bay though, so that you don't have to spread it all in one go. We used to bag most of it and spread it when needed.

Ours was mainly chicken poo -2 tons a year. It is far too strong to put down after one year and is very powerful stuff after 2 so needs to be spread in moderation. It is important that the stored maturing manure goes straight into bay directly on the soil which then supplies the worms, allows them to move between bays and allows for drainage.


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Muck heap/ composting
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2017, 01:13:21 pm »
As Chris says for rotating the piles, although we use three. I would suggest though keeping wood shavings separate from straw.  Straw rots down quickly, so is ready in one to two years if it's well wetted before you start.  Shavings can take several years.  If you spread shavings which have not fully rotted then the continuing rotting process will actually take nitrogen from the soil, rather than adding it.  If you use certain persistent wormers then they will still be active in the dung and actually kill the tiger and earthworms you need to work the heap.

If you spread the manure in the autumn then the worms will work it into the soil so that by spring it will all be incorporated, both fertilising and adding humus.  The less you rotavate or plough the quicker you will build up a good soil structure for planting.

Incidentally, compost is slightly different as it's made from plant material, has a lower nutritional value and is used in slightly different situations to farm yard manure (FYM)
« Last Edit: January 16, 2017, 01:15:50 pm by Fleecewife »
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  • Joined Nov 2008
Re: Muck heap/ composting
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2017, 04:47:19 pm »
Our muck heap is taken once a year by a local farmer. He spreads it on his fields. Grows mostly wheat and barley. He says its great stuff. Most is from the ponies with some from pigs and chickens. We make sure it is kept compacted. this helps it to heat up and rot down quicker.


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