Which pet waste can you compost (And which you cannot!)

We love our pets! It is estimated that there are over a billion pets in the world. Pets do many things to make us happy, but there is another thing they do…Poop! With so many pets out there, you can imagine the litter produced every day. The common practice is to wrap it in a plastic bag and throw it in the garbage, where they end up in the landfills. People passionate about green living and composting often wonder if they can safely compost their pet waste. Well, here we have compiled some queries that people have about animal waste. We will try to answer these based on scientific data, so next time you will know what to do with your pet waste. 

Dogs

Let’s begin with the most popular pet in the world. A 2018 estimate says that there are around 471 million pet dogs in the world. Here in the US, we have over 76 million dogs as pets. A medium-size dog can put out 396 Pounds or 180 kgs of poop in a year. Well, that’s a lot! No wonder people are looking for alternate ways to dispose of it. Let’s go through the most common questions that people have.

Is dog poop OK for compost?

Yes, you can compost dog poop; however, it can contain harmful pathogens that might not be destroyed during the composting process. These pathogens might prove harmful for humans if you use the compost from dog poop in consumable plants.

The composting bin needs a constant temperature of 73 degrees Celsius or 165 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 days to compost it safely. These conditions are pretty hard to achieve in a normal composting setup.

You can still compost the dog poop. Remember to turn it often, maintain a good ratio of greens to brown and let it cure for 4 to 6 weeks. If you are certain that the pile had high temperatures for sustained periods, you can use it as you like. However, if you are not sure about the temperature, use compost only in ornamental plants. 

How long does it take for dog poop to decompose?

It takes 6 to 9 weeks for the dog poop to decompose in a composting bin. It can even take 12 weeks in colder environments. You need to add one part sawdust or a carbon source for two parts of dog poop.

Composting dog poop with worms

Yes, multiple studies have demonstrated that worms can break down dog feces. But it would be best if you were very careful in this entire process. Even if you are using the best vermicomposting setups available, there is no certainty that worms will process all of the waste, and the end product will be safe.

Though you can still use it on non-consumable plants, it would be best to follow a slightly different process for a better outcome.

  • Add a lot of absorbent and carbon-rich materials in dog poop, and mix it well. 
  • Hot compost it in a separate bin for several weeks before adding it into the worm bin
  • Let it vermicompost for atleast 60 days
  • Test the compost for diseases before using it

Cats 

Well, some of us love dogs while others love cats. When we are talking numbers, cats are not far behind the dogs. Globally we have 371 million pet kitties, and in the US there the number is 58 million! That’s a lot of cats and a lot of litter. So what can you do with it?

Is it safe to compost cat litter?

You can compost biodegradable cat litters. Though most cat litters available out there, contain chemicals that cannot be broken down during composting.

There are other risks associated with composting cat litter. Cat Feces can contain a dangerous parasite called toxoplasmosis. People who are infected with this pathogen will have flu symptoms like headaches, muscle aches, etc. To kill toxoplasmosis, the pile should reach a temperature of 73 degrees Celsius or 165 degrees Fahrenheit which is not easy to attain.

In most scenarios, the risks outweigh the rewards. The better solution would be to use other eco-friendly options to dispose of cat litter.

Birds

After cats, the next most popular choice for pets is the birds. In the united states, there are over 3.5 million pet birds. Even though the birds’ quantity of feces produced by the birds is lower than cats or dogs, it can easily pile up. People who have many pet chickens and pigeons often end up with large quantities of bird poop. 

Can you compost bird droppings?

Yes, you can compost bird droppings. They are an excellent source of nitrogen and can act as a composting activator. Their beddings can also be added to the composting bin. Here are a few things you need to consider 

  • Only include droppings from healthy birds in captivity. Poop from wild birds can contain harmful pathogens
  • Mix the droppings with bedding to balance out the nitrogen
  • Include plenty of brown material into the mix. The recommended ratio is four to five parts of browns for one part of bird droppings
  • Make sure that the compost has the consistency of a wet sponge. Add more water if it feels dry
  • Wear gloves and a face mask while handling bird droppings

Is composted chicken manure acidic or alkaline?

Composted poultry manure has a pH of 8.4, which makes it highly alkaline. Compared to compost obtained from the waste of other animals, poultry manure has one of the highest pH levels.

Is composted chicken manure safe?

Composted chicken manure is generally safe. though, You have to use it in a slightly different manner

  • Fresh chicken manure may contain disease-causing pathogens, so it’s best to use it on fruits, vegetables, and other food crops.
  • Use the hot composting process for the best results.
  • Always let the compost age before using. Aging removes disease-causing microbes to a great extent. It’s a good idea to age it for 120 days.
  • Wear gloves and a mask while handling the chicken manure
  • Wash the produce thoroughly before consuming and avoid eating them uncooked
  • The chicken manure is usually high in pH, so use it after testing the soil.

How long does it take for chicken manure to compost?

Normally it takes 6 to 9 months for chicken manure to compost. However, you can reduce this time to as low as 3 months if you opt for hot composting.

Fish

People love to have fish in their homes. Be it a single goldfish in a bowl, an aquarium filled with numerous species, or leftovers from your fishing trip. Like all other pets, fishes also generate waste, and people often wonder if they can compost it or not.

Can you compost fish waste and scraps?

Yes, fish manure is highly sought after. Fish manure contains plenty of nitrogen, which is an excellent addition to your plants. People usually throw away their fish waste into garbage bins or back into the aquatic bodies, but this practice is very damaging for the ecosystem. The modern fishing industry is acknowledging this, and instead of throwing the scraps, they are selling them fertilizer industry.

Compost bin owners should know this too and use fish waste to make their compost richer.

How do you compost fish waste?

Unregulated composting of fish waste can result in a foul-smelling compost bin, and it can also attract animals like bears to your bin. Here are few things that will help you successfully compost the fish scraps

  • It would help if you only composted fishes in a closed composting bin. If you live in an area with dangerous animals like bears, and you don’t have a closed bin, it would be best to avoid composting fish waste.
  • Add plenty of sawdust, wood chips, dried leaves, and straw to furnish the carbon required for composting. The fish scraps provide the nitrogen.
  • A good carbon and nitrogen ratio is three parts carbon and one part nitrogen.
  • Allow 60% water and 20% oxygen into the pile. Oxygen is a critical element that prevents it from becoming smelly.
  • The recommended pH range is 6-8.5
  • Maintain the temperature between 130F-150F(54C-65C) for at least three days to get rid of pathogens
  • Let the compost cure at ambient temperature for several weeks before applying it to plants.

Rabbits

Rabbits are another pet species that is favored all over the world. Fans of rabbits find it hard to resist these cute fluffy cottontails. If you have been reading this article so far, you know where we are going with this…Yes, we are going to talk about the rabbit poo. I know you were eagerly waiting for it!

Can you compost rabbit poop?

Yes, rabbit manure is rich in nitrogen and phosphorous that is crucial for plant growth. Rabbit droppings are dry, odorless, and are in the form of pallets. These properties make them perfect for garden and composting use. No wonder people are selling rabbit poop!

How to compost rabbit poop

Composting rabbit waste is pretty simple. Here are a few guidelines that will greatly help you out

  • When you add rabbit poop to the bin, apply an equal amount of straw and wood shavings
  • Stir the pile properly and spray it with water. Don’t overdo it though
  • Cover up the pile and turn it regularly
  • It can take upto a year for the compost to get ready for your garden

Cows

For thousands of years, cows have accompanied humans on their journeys. These animals are highly beneficial and were valued throughout history. Humans have known for a long time that cow manure is very useful and farming and is often used in rural areas worldwide. Cow manure, however, contains high amounts of ammonia and can burn some sensitive plants. Therefore it is best if you compost it before applying it to the crops.

How do you compost cow manure?

Cow manure contains nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and several organic materials. Composting it will also increase the beneficial microorganisms in it, enriching the soil it applied upon

  • It is recommended to add small amounts of lime and ash to your pile to balance the pH.
  • As cow manure is heavy, it will help if you mix it with lighter materials like straw and bedding.
  • Cow manure required piles of specific size. Piles that are too small will not produce the required heat, and too big piles will restrict airflow.

How long does it take for cow manure to compost?

It can take about six months to compost cow manure. However, depending on the temperature of the pile, this time can increase or decrease.

Final thoughts

When composting pet waste, you have to be a little picky. Even though all pet waste can be composted like all organic matter but faces from dogs, cats, and other carnivorous animals can contain harmful pathogens. You should only put them in your pile if you are certain that you can achieve the temperatures mentioned above. Sometimes people employ a separate pit for their pets and use the compost generated for non-consumable plants.

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