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Organic garden, and CAFO cow/chicken manure

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Organic garden, and CAFO cow/chicken manure

Post  StellaBlueMama on 3/16/2012, 11:50 am

Greetings all! I am just wanting to get some feedback from all of you about something I've been thinking about.
I live in Nebraska, and though am lucky to have to access to several types of manure from somewhat local, but reliable source. However, being in the city, it can be a pain to get it. I was scouting some things at a big box store, and found several products that I thought might be an "easier option" for me. I found a bag of cattle manure that is made here in Nebraska, and a chicken manure from Wisconsin. At first, my main thought was "how much of this will I want/need" so I jotted down the brand information and headed home.
I called the chicken manure manufacturer first. I will say the man at the chicken manure distribution center was very kind and helpful. I asked "so you are from Wisconsin then?" and he said no, he was in California. That struck me as odd...so I asked where the chicken manure comes from. He told me I probably wouldn't like his answer. He was right.
So then I called the cattle manure distributor. She told me that their product is carried in every one of these big box stores, and several other chain stores throughout the entire Midwest. WOW...that is a lot of manure! So I asked if it comes from several farms, and she advised no...only from one. I started thinking, well that's sure a LOT of manure for one farm. She told me where the farm was, and after a Google search...I found a court case from the EPA, and a 2005 article on msnbc.com about the cattle farm. It showed a group of cows eating, and a pile of manure so big it literally looked like MOUNTAINS behind them.
Both the cow and chicken manures are a product of a CAFO.
If you're not sure what that is, it stands for concentrated animal feeding operations....and I would urge you to research more on them and discover for yourselves how you feel about them. I will also add there ARE some farms that would be considered a CAFO set-up...but the animals are treated well, and are very well cared for. I mean absolutely NO disrespect to ANY farmer. I came from a farming family, and am a strong advocate for farmers! Both those who maintain the type of farm I grew up on, and those who have been backed up against a wall by the "big guns" who produce nearly every bit of the meat we eat in this country and dictate every aspect of the farming they want...big animals, grown as fast as possible, for big profits to everyone BUT the farmer ~ no matter what the consequences. (** I will also add I feel very uneasy posting this, so please understand that the questions, concerns, and opinions expressed here are mine - and truly come from a good place **)

So my question is this:
I try to be mindful of what I put in my body, and thus, my garden. I have an entirely organic garden. In your opinion do you think it is safe to use this type of compost? Though I am happy these farms are doing something positive to dispose of the tons and tons of manure produced there, I have real concerns with the antibiotics, chemicals, etc... Would the composting process be enough to assure none of the "bad stuff" would enter my garden? I just want to be sure before I buy any. I need some manure soon and am not sure what to do.

Many thanks!

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Compost alternatives

Post  Freshenista on 3/16/2012, 2:25 pm

Can't answer your safety question, but I'm trying to avoid manure to make sure I'm not supporting CAFOs.

So far I've identified as alternatives:
• Leaf compost - purchased LeafGro, a recommended brand by MD government (I'm in VA)
• Backyard compost - asked via Freecycle to get some from neighbors.
• Corn gluten - Saw this recommended somewhere and got something today on it for sale as natural weed killer. Posted at http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t10872-corn-gluten-and-other-non-animal-compost#105290 to see if anyone had an opinion.
• Cotton ball/burr. Someone on that thread recommended "cotton ball" compost, and I see some discussion of "cotton burr." I need to make some calls to see what's available.

Not sure if any of these might work for you in maintaining a worry free garden and opting out of supporting CAFOs. Happy growing!

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Location : Arlington, VA

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Corn Gluten

Post  Freshenista on 3/16/2012, 4:33 pm

Just got some helpful info that that's for mature plants only, not growing from seed, with a reminder on the likelihood of GMO. Sigh.

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Re: Organic garden, and CAFO cow/chicken manure

Post  Lindacol on 3/16/2012, 5:53 pm

Search out your local organic or grass fed animal farmers.
Check for certified humane growers:

Craigslist is also a place to look for smaller local livestock breeders who are often trying to be as natural or organic as possible and will often have aged manure available.

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Re: Organic garden, and CAFO cow/chicken manure

Post  littlejo on 3/16/2012, 7:00 pm

I think I'd look for a 'small' feed store, and go there to ask about local farmers and compost. It's difficult when you find out about GMO and CAFO, and then you try to avoid them.


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Re: Organic garden, and CAFO cow/chicken manure

Post  eflan on 3/19/2012, 8:14 pm

Since you live in the city and don't necissarily want to head out into the boonies to pick up manure, you might try calling around to CSA operations that deliver into the city. You never know: some might deliver you poop along with some meat and veggies. Most CSAs will have chickens at a minimum.

Google gave me this: http://www.ecovian.com/s/omaha/csa

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