Composting of poultry wastes

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Value addition of Poultry Waste through Composting technology

Poultry industry is one of the largest and fastest growing livestock production systems in the world. In India, there are about 3430 million populations of poultry with a waste generation of 3.30 million tonnes per year. The localized nature of poultry production also means that it can represent a large percentage of the agricultural economy in many states or regions. Although economical and successful, the poultry industry is currently facing with a number of highly complex and challenging environmental problems, many of which are related to its size and geographically concentrated nature. From an agricultural perspective, poultry wastes playa major role in the contamination of ground water through nitrate nitrogen. Also, the eutrophication of surface water due to phosphorus, pesticides, heavy metals and pathogens present in the poultry wastes applied to soils are the central environmental issues at the present time.

Among the animal manures, poultry droppings have higher nutrient contents. It has nitrogen (4.55 to 5.46 %), phosphorus (2.46 to 2.82 %), potassium (2.02 to 2.32 %), calcium (4.52 to 8.15 %), magnesium (0.52 to 0.73 %) and appreciable quantities of micro nutrients like Cu, Zn, Fe, Mn etc. In addition to this cellulose (2.26 to 3.62%), hermicellulose (1.89 to 2.77 %) and lignin (1.07 to 2.16 %) are also present in poultry waste. These components upon microbial action can be converted to value added compost with high nutrient status. In poultry droppings, nearly 60%of nitrogen which is present as uric acid and urea is lost through ammonia volatilization by hydrolysis. This loss of nitrogen reduces the agronomic value of the product, besides causing atmospheric pollution. Composting with amendment seems promising in conservation of nitrogen in poultry droppings. Nitrogen in poultry waste can be effectively conserved by composting with suitable organic amendment. The technologies developed will be highly useful to the poultry farmers.

Technology for composting of poultry wastes

  1. Preparation of poultry waste compost using paddy straw

Inputs required

  • Poultry droppings
  • Paddy straw
  • Pleurotus sajor-caju

A known quantity of fresh poultry droppings is to be collected and mixed thoroughly with chopped paddy straw (< 2 cm size) @ 1:1.25 ratio so as to attain a C/Nratio of 25 to 30 which is considered to be optimum for composting. Pleurotus sajor-caju is inoculated @ 5 packets (250 g each) per tonne of substrate. The poultry waste and paddy straw mix should be heaped under shade. The moisture content of the heap should be maintained at 50 to 60%. Periodical watering should be done once in 15 days and turning should be given on 21st, 35th and 42ndday of composting (avoid turning during first 3 weeks of composting). Within a period of 50 days, materials are converted to matured compost with the following nutrient contents;

N : 1.89%
P : 1.83%
K : 1.34%
C/N : 12.20%

II. Preparation of poultry waste compost using coir pith

Inputs required

  • Poultry droppings
  • Coirpith
  • Pleurotus sajor-caju
a.Collection of poultry waste from caged system

A layer of 5 cm sea sand and 10cm coir pith should be spread in the manure collection pit of caged system where the poultry droppings are allowed to settle. Dry coir pith should be applied periodically as per the table given below. After a period of three months, the partially degraded coir pith and poultry droppings mix can be transferred to compost yard and heaped under shade.

DaysQuantity of Poultry Droppings (PD) excreted (kg)Quantity of Coir Pith (CP) to be applied (for 1000 birds) (kg)Application rate PD : CP ratio
170105.01 : 1.50
1-7490735.01 : 1.50
7-14490735.01 : 1.50
14-21490612.51 : 1.25
21-28490612.51 : 1.25
28-35490490.01 : 1.00
35-42490490.01 : 1.00
42-49490367.51 : 1.75
49-56490367.51 : 1.75
56-63490245.01 : 1.50
63-70490245.01 : 1.50
70-77490122.51 : 1.25
77-84490122.51 : 1.25
b.Collection of poultry waste from deep litter system

Dry fiber free coir pith is spread as a layer to a height of 5 to 10cm on the floor of the poultry production unit. The birds are grown on this coir pith bed and the droppings are collected in the coir pith. After a period of three months, partially degraded coir pith containing poultry droppings and feathers are shifted to the compost yard and heaped under shade.

c.Method of composting poultry waste with coir pith

A known quantity of the poultry waste as collected above along with coir pith is inoculated with Pleurotus sajor-caju @ 2 packets per tonne of waste in order to speed up the composting process. This mixer should be placed under shade as heap. The moisture content of the heap should be maintained at 50 to 60%. Periodical turning must be given on 21 th, 28 th and 35 th days of composting. Another two packets of Pleurotus sajor-caju is to be added during turning given on the 28thday of composting. Good quality compost will be attained after 45thday of composting. The nutrient contents of the composts of poultry litter collected from caged system and deep litter systems are as below;

NutrientCaged system manureDeep litter system manure
Nitrogen (%)2.082.13
Phosphorous (%)2.612.40
Potassium (%)2.942.03
C:N ratio13:114:1

Points to be remembered

  • Elevated shady place is highly suitable.
  • Within a period of 10 to 15 days, the temperature of the heap will raise to maximum. If the temperature drops below 50 ºC, the heaps should be spread and moistened with water to bring the moisture content to 60%.
  • Colour of the compost will turn from brown to black.
  • The matured compost will be odourless.
  • The volume of the compost heap will be reduced to 1/3.
  • Temperature of the heap will be same as the ambient air temperature and stable.
  • Matured compost will be light and fine textured.
  • Moisture content of the heap can be measured using moisture meter or by taking handful of compost from the heap and squeezing it with the fingers. If excess water drips out from the compost, then it is considered to have >60 % moisture. If small quantity of water oozes out as drops, then moisture content is considered to be optimum i.e., at 60%.
  • Each compost heap should have a minimum of one tonne to retain the heat for post decomposition.


Animal manures especially poultry manure are rich in N and the nutrient value of the manure is reduced by loss of N through ammonia volatilization and denitrification. Good quality poultry manure can be obtained by mixing the poultry waste with selective carbonaceous material such as coirpith and inoculation with suitable microorganism. It can be used as an eco-friendly technique for the conversion of poultry waste into valuable compost.


Poultry wastes contain higher concentrations of nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus than wastes of other animal species and the presence of nutrients provides more incentive for the utilization of this resource. The loss of nitrogen from poultry droppings can be effectively conserved by composting with coir pith and serves as a good source of organic nutrients to agricultural fields. To make the organic nutrients present in poultry waste available to plants, the waste has to be composted suitably to minimize the volatilization of ammonia.


This technology is widely suitable and applied to the poultry farmers to utilize the solid waste in an effective manner. The poultry waste compost will be a very good organic manure@6 ton / ha for all the crops.


The uninterrupted availability of the raw materials has to be ensured for continuous production on a commercial scale.


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