Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Using wood ashes and charcoal with poultry and on the farm

In the Coop

We have been enjoying the wood stove a lot this winter.  Every now and then, you have to clean out the ashes.  Then, the question is...what do I do with these ashes?  Luckily, there are lots of uses for ashes on the farm.  

Here is a pic of Beck (cat)...she loves hanging out by the fire...with all the wet gloves, hats, and shoes!

Nutrition and Detox

To begin, wood ash contains important minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorous. Sprinkling a pinch of wood ash on the feed nourishes the girls, especially egg-laying chickens. They need these important minerals to lay eggs!  Wood ash also works as a detoxifier and removes toxins out of the chickens and ducks bodies.  I usually use a sifter to screen the ashes and remove the charcoal pieces.  (I even have some charcoal pills that I bought and take from time to time to help detox my system.)
I put the charcoal pieces into a small rubber tub and let the chickens and ducks "peck" at them.  Putting a little charcoal in the waterer is helpful in avoiding harmful algae and bacteria from developing. Side note: this will make the water a gray color which is not visually appealing.  

Pest Control

The fine ashes that fall through the sieve are mixed with sand and used to make a dust bath for the chickens.  Dust baths are great for keeping parasites from "bugging" the chickens because the ashes suffocate fleas, lice, and mites.  Ducks prefer to swim in water and preen to control pests so they do not use a dust bath.

Odor Control

Wood ash can neutralize coop odor. I just sprinkle some wood ash on top of the bedding on the floor.  The chickens like to scratch through it and will eat little pieces.  Wood ash reduces the amount of ammonia in manure by preventing fumes from forming. Wood ash is alkaline and mixing it with manure in the coop helps in regulating its acidity.  The ashes are absorbent too so they help to keep the coop dry too.

Natural De-icer

Another use is to put the ashes down on the ice to provide some traction.  There was a slab of ice forming in front of the door to the new coop so I spread a thin layer of ash on the ice and voila! No more slipping!  I wouldn't put ashes on the doorstep of your home because that would cause you to bring in lots of black yuck on your shoes but it is great for this situation because I always take my boots off first thing when I come back into the house...

In the Garden

Ashes are great in the garden for plants that prefer alkaline conditions such as asparagus, beets, tomatoes, and fruit trees.  If we have a bunch of extra ashes then I also add them to the compost bin and mix them in.  

In 2019, we got a new wood stove and it is so efficient that we do not get many ashes!  Luckily, we also have a large burn pile that I can harvest some ashes from in the summer.  I still wish I had more this winter.  I am using them as fast as we create them!  

Have an eggcellent week!

No comments:

Post a Comment