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chicken compost on sheep pasture??


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A couple of weeks ago, I read that chicken compost should not be spread on fields used by grazing sheep.  After a few days, I tried to find the reference again, but could not. So I am here in hopes of getting more input and/or confirmation (or not) of that statement.

Reason quoted for not using chicken compost: since chickens eat and excrete higher levels of copper than is required by sheep, the compost would cause copper toxicity in sheep eating grass that has been fertilized with chicken compost. (assuming that the grass takes up the copper in the compost).

What say the sheep owners here? Is this a realistic worry? How much chicken compost would be required to be harmful to sheep? How long before the copper would be 'diluted' in pastures to a safe level for sheep grazing?

I ask because my next door neighbor hays our fields and uses it for his cows. (It is crappy hay, and I don't want to use it. At least the fields remain clear). He will usually spread chicken compost once a year on these fields. I don't mind the smell so much, but have to keep the dogs off the fields for a month or two until the compost degrades even more because they LOVE to eat the stuff. Now I am wondering if I should be worrying about the application of the chicken compost if I ever want to use those fields for grazing sheep in the future.

There is probably not a black & white answer, but best guesses would be appreciated.  Thanks in advance.

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  • 3 years later...

Copper is not the problem. The issue is: Biosecurity and BSE type risks: feeding animal products that may be present in chook food (many contain fish meal) to ruminants that graze where the fertiliser was spread. Remember mad cows disease? 

Ditto for blood and bone fertiliser. 

You can use it, but you must wait 3 weeks before allowing ruminants to graze the area. 

Im in Australia. This is the law here. 

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