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Smallholder Composting: Can I Compost Alpaca Manure?

HOTBIN owner Clare has a smallholding with 50 chickens, 6 alpacas and is now about to open a cattery (www.clarescattery.co.uk).  Following her success with her first two HOTBIN compost bins, she has asked us a number of “smelly based” questions over the past couple of months, the latest of which is HOTBIN’s ability to compost alpaca manure.

Clare asked us:

  1. Can I compost alpaca manure?
  2. Can I compost chicken poo with my food waste?
  3. Can I compost cat poo?
  4. Should I have separate compost bins for the alpaca, cat, and chicken/food waste? 

 

Composting alpaca manureLet’s begin with a cute picture of an alpaca before getting down and dirty with the issue of composting alpaca manure and other animal waste. Hopefully you are not feeling queasy and are ready to read on!

Can You Compost Alpaca Manure? (or Llama poo – its related cousin)? 

The answer is yes. All animal poo (including dog and cat poo) can be composted. Clare has been successfully composting alpaca poo for 6 months in a HOTBIN compost bin. She reports just how easy it is: “The alpaca manure is largely free from any bedding additives, save for a bit of hay. I find that alpaca poo composts in no time at all, in fact many people say they use it neat, shall we say, as alpacas are ruminant animals and therefore poo is almost compost as it comes. However, I still prefer to compost it for a short while at least.”

Can I Compost Chicken Poo With My Food Waste?  

Yes, chicken poo makes great compost fast. However the addition of bedding from chicken coops/houses can slow the composting process down so you may need to watch the amount of wood shavings added.

Different bedding materials compost at different rates: paper is the fastest followed by straw, sawdust and wood shavings. If you are using ‘pellet bedding’ – this can be either paper pulp or sawdust based. If you want to know more about the science of how lignin and  surface area affect the speed of composing visit  our woody material post.

Chicken poo is so fast to compost it acts as a compost accelerator and is more cost effective than commercial accelerators.

Can I Compost Cat Poo?

Yes, although many compost websites categorically say no to cat poo composting. There are however some health and safety issues to consider, but in our opinion with a correctly operating HOT home composting bin the risks are small. We do however broadly agree that adding cat poo to a cold compost heap should be avoided.

Should I Use Separate Compost Bins for Each Type of Waste?

Composting Alpaca Manure in a HotBinWe see no reason to separate the different wastes into different compost bins however the options below will give you some advice to make you own decision:

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3 comments

  1. Nice article.Thanks for sharing your views.

  2. We are fortunate to have a relatively large garden which generates a lot of compost able material. (1-2 black dustbins per week) what would the best set up be as regards hot bin hot composting? Do you have larger bins for larger scale? Or multiple bins? All a bit at a time? Or one after the other?

    • As the HOTBIN composts so much faster, each unit will cope with 500-1500 litres per year.

      Even with a large lawn we suggest starting with a ‘twin pack’ at first. We tested this with some ‘heavy duty’ users – 2 HOTBINs will cope with a large grass lawn 5X40L grass boxes composts down (@ 60°c in HOTBIN) to about 1×40 litres in around 7 days).

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