Is it better to use pelleted or loose chicken manure to fertilize Bermuda grass hay stands?
Answer: There are two issues that should help you decide which source to use. The first issue deals with the type of spreader system you have available. The pellets offer an easier and more uniform product to spread on the hay ground and a simple cyclone spreader or a Gandy-type box spreader works well. With dry broiler-house manure, the challenge is often getting the box-type manure spreaders adjusted down to a low enough rate to get coverage that doesn’t over-apply, especially with a higher nutrient analysis chicken house manure.The second issue is cost. Are pellets or chicken-house manure cheaper? You can make an informed decision if you compare the analysis of pellets’ nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium content per pound compared to that of the chicken-house manure. Our research in the northeastern United States shows nutrient ranges between 79-62-42 to 66-63-47 (per ton) based on the weight of the broilers. That makes for a simple comparison of the value per pound of plant nutrients. There would be little difference in the relative availability of the nitrogen since both sources have some type of wood/saw dust filler included either as the bedding in the chicken house or in the ground-up pellet formulation. To learn more, check out the resources in the Livestock & Pasture section of the ATTRA website at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/livestock/.