It is not safe to apply fresh manure to the garden. In order to use chicken manure as a soil amendment, it will have to be composted and cured in order to kill harmful human pathogens that may be present. Composting chicken manure is a lot like composting kitchen scraps, but while temperature control in basic composting is optional, it is imperative in manure composting to kill bacteria.
Gather chicken manure and bedding when the coops are cleaned. The manure serves as the green material and the bedding serves as the brown material, and all chicken manure compost piles need a good ratio of both in order to safely break down material and kill pathogens. These are the only two ingredients you'll need to compost the chicken manure and get things started for curing.
Dedicate a bin or an outside space that is at least 3 by 3 by 3 feet for the best composting results. The extension recommends using a two-bin system, one for the composting process and one for the curing process. They can both be the same size. Chicken manure is high in nitrogen, so the usual ratio of 1 part brown material to 2 parts green material may not be suitable. A 1-to-1 or even 2-to-1 ratio of brown to green may be more suitable when composting chicken manure.
Layer the pile as best you can with brown and green materials. This will make the center of the pile hot, which is ideal for killing bacteria. Take the pile's temperature every day. According to University of Florida Extension, the pile's temperature should reach at least 104 degrees Fahrenheit for at least five days, and it should hover between 131 and 140 F for at least four hours. When the center of the pile has reached the right temperature, rotate it so the outside materials become the inside materials. The compost pile is ready to cure when those outside materials have also reached the proper temperature for the proper amount of time.
Move the composted chicken manure to the curing bin. The manure will have to cure for anywhere from 45 to 60 days before it will be ready to apply to the garden. Once the compost has decomposed and is a dark crumbly substance that smells like soil it is safe to use in the garden, even on vegetables.
Based in Fort Collins, Colo., Dannah Swift has been writing since 2009. She writes about green living, careers and the home garden. Her writing has appeared on various websites. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature from the University of New Hampshire and is currently pursuing a certificate in paralegal studies.