Problems composting pet chicken bedding
I was wondering if their is any ag or biology majors or avid gardeners that can help me. I have 3 sweet and well loved PET chickens that sleep on timothy hay at night Recently, I read that timothy hay can be contaminated with the herbicide clopyralid. Supposedly, it does not readily break down and can persist in the soil for 1-2 years. This is problem since I would like to compost their bedding and manure for my veggie garden. Luckily, it doesn't seem to pose problems for animals just sensitive plants.
Does anyne have experience with this bedding in their compost heaps? Does it cause stunted growth in veggie crops?
It depends on the vegetable. I haven't seen a comprehensive list of things that it will affect, but it seems to only be broadleaf plants, in much the same way that Hi-Dep works in the 3rd year after application where stuff will come back, but weakly. I suspect that it works in much the same way. They swear it is ok for animals to eat it, but after watching keep broadleaf plants at bay for 2 years, I am a little skeptical.
What I did is compost all my hay separately from everything else, using a composting accelerator (this one from Gardener's Supply works really nice: http://www.gardeners.com/superhot-compost-starter/20708,38-189,default,cp.html) and then letting it sit for at least a year before using. Even then, I avoided using it on my vegetables unless I didn't have any other compost handy.
Here is a nice page at Washington State University about the damage Clopyralid does to plants: http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/soilmgmt/Clopyralid.htm