Natural Fertilizer From Your Animals

Compost natural fertilizerIf you are working to feed yourself “off the grid”, then you already probably have an extensive garden. Do you use natural fertilizer for your garden?

You might also be raising small animals and fish for food. Did you know that one of the often-overlooked by-products of raising animals is that you can make excellent natural fertilizer from their waste?

Beats buying chemicals and may make for a healthier harvest all round. But, like anything else, there are a few things to know before diving into the process. It can be a good experience for you – and for your plants. Or you may decide it is not for you after all.


Let’s talk about compost. When you buy that bag of black “dirt”, you might think it is a special product. Well, it is. And you can make it, too. All you need is the right raw materials, some basic tools, and time.

We are going to refer to “regular” compost a lot in this post. We mean the mixture of chopped leaves, yard waste, and kitchen waste aged and turned until it decomposes into a rich crumbly black “dirt”.

Raw materials

Gathering the manure from your own (or other) animals is the first step. If you house your food animals and provide bedding that you change, you can include that bedding with the manure in your compost. The combination is a great mix of carbon and nitrogen and bacteria.

With poultry manure, particularly, you want to add it as a supplement into your regular compost. The bird manure is very high in nitrogen and will tend to discourage flowering and fruiting in plants if too much bird manure is concentrated in your compost.


If you are just aging raw manure, all you need to do is put the manure in a pile and leave it alone. Really. That’s it.

The pile will smell at first. It will attract flies, which will tend to breed in it. But decomposition will proceed rather rapidly and the finished product will not smell when you spread it on your garden. So … if you have plenty of area to work with and can locate the manure pile where it will not offend, it’s a great solution. If not, well, you may need to reconsider your approach and go to a manure-enhanced “regular” composting process with bins to lessen the initial odor.

In all cases, be sure to practice sensible hygiene. Wear gloves. Wear scrubbable shoes (like rubber boots). Wash your hands.


If you are going to spread the manure itself directly on the soil, the time you need to invest is the time between fall harvest and spring planting. Spread it on the soil in the fall. Turn it into the soil. Then wait for time to age the raw manure into a soil-enrichment less likely to burn plant roots with its ammonia and nitrogen (and salts).

If you are going to add raw manure in some proportion to your “regular” yard waste and green kitchen waste composting process, the time you invest is the time you invest in the composting process itself. The raw manure adds organic content and bacteria that are beneficial to the compost production. And you still need time (and turning the “pile”) for the process to produce the crumbly black soil enrichment you seek.


Some manure is better than others for gardening. Most manures are too hot with ammonia and nitrogen “fresh” and need to be either aged or put through the composting process to better balance them. Raw manure can easily burn plant roots.

Herbivore manure (from cows, horses, sheep, rabbits, gerbils, etc.) is closer to being ready to use (after aging) than bird (chickens, geese, etc.) manure.

Bird manure (from chickens, turkeys, ducks, etc.) is extremely high in nitrogen and should be both aged and mixed with “regular” compost before applying to plants. In too high a concentration it may encourage growth while stunting flowering and fruiting.

Though dogs and cats produce plenty of poop, it is not a good idea to use it in your compost. Dog and cat waste (as well as manure from other meat-eating animals) can contain disease organisms that are particularly dangerous for children.

Little-known fact – alpaca manure is about the perfect pH for fertilizer and can be used directly in the garden with no composting and little aging required.


Does making your own natural fertilizer make sense? It depends.

  • It may well save you money in the long run.
  • It may well decrease your dependence on external materials.
  • It may well improve the quality and quantity of your harvest.

Ask yourself: do you have

  • enough need for natural fertilizer to make producing it a cost savings
  • enough space to do the needed composting
  • enough time to make compost
  • enough appropriate raw materials to make compost
  • any interest at all in making natural fertilizer


Whether you opt to make natural fertilizer incorporating your food animals’ wastes or not, being as independent in your living as is comfortable for you is always a Good Thing. We hope you have some more facts now to help you consider whether it would make cost sense or ecological sense or soul sense to launch a natural fertilizer operation.

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About Bret Smith

I am a long-time lover of all things outdoors. Whether hunting, shooting, fishing or just hiking and camping, I take every opportunity to enjoy nature and share it with others.

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