How to Compost Your Pet’s Fur and Feathers

How to Compost Your Pet’s Fur and Feathers

Having a furry or feathered pet can be very rewarding, but also comes with some unique cleanup duties. As a responsible pet owner, you likely want to dispose of your pet’s shed fur and feathers in an eco-friendly way. Composting your pet’s fur and feathers is a great option!

Composting allows you to reuse waste in a sustainable way. By composting pet fur and feathers, you can create rich fertilizer to nourish your garden. This article will walk you through everything you need to know about composting pet hair and feathers.

Why Compost Pet Fur and Feathers?

There are several benefits to composting your pet’s fur and feathers rather than simply throwing them in the trash:

  • Reduces waste – Pet fur and feathers take up space in landfills. Composting gives them a new purpose.

  • Saves money – Purchasing compost and fertilizer can get expensive. Making your own is frugal.

  • Creates nutritious compost – Pet fur and feathers provide carbon, nitrogen, and trace nutrients plants need to thrive.

  • Eco-friendly alternative – Composting is much better for the environment than using chemical fertilizers.

  • Keeps yards clean – Composting fur and feathers picked up while grooming your yard keeps things tidy.

If you want to be kind to the planet while keeping your garden lush, composting pet fur and feathers is a smart choice. The composting process is straightforward, as outlined below.

Composting Pet Fur

Human hair and pet fur share similarities that make fur easy to compost. Here are some tips:

Gathering the Fur

  • Brush regularly – Regularly brushing your cat, dog, rabbit, etc. will help gather fur. Consider brushing outdoors so the fur can go right into the compost.

  • Use a fur rake – A shedding blade or rubber pet hair remover can help remove loose fur from your pet when brushing doesn’t get it all.

  • Clean pet bedding – When washing pet beds, blankets and other items, collect fur in the lint trap to compost.

Preparing the Fur

  • Let sunlight hit it – Before composting, lay the fur outside in the sun if possible. The UV rays help break down the fur.

  • Mix with “brown” materials – Combine fur with dry “brown” materials like dead leaves, sawdust, or shredded cardboard. This gives the microbes carbon for balance.

  • Chop into small pieces – Consider running the fur through a shredder or blender first. Smaller pieces decompose faster.

Composting the Fur

  • Bury in compost bin – Bury fur 1-2 feet deep in your compost pile or bin. This allows it to break down properly.

  • Avoid matting – Make sure fur is loosely distributed, not matted. Fluff it up regularly as needed. Matted fur resists decomposition.

  • Turn the pile – Turning or mixing the compost helps aerate it for optimal breakdown.

  • Wait patiently – It can take 2 to 4 months for fur to fully decompose. Time and heat break it down.

Follow these tips and your pet’s fur can easily become rich, usable compost for your garden!

Composting Feathers

Feathers share qualities with fur that allow for composting, with a few extra considerations:

Gathering Feathers

  • Collect during grooming – Regularly grooming your bird will cause it to naturally shed feathers to compost.

  • Clean cages/coops – When cleaning your bird’s habitat, gather molted feathers to compost.

  • Save feathers shed in home – Be on the lookout for feathers shed around the house and place them in your compost bin.

Preparing Feathers

  • Grind feathers – Use a grinder or shredder to break feathers down into small particles before composting. Their structure is tough.

  • Chop with hedge trimmers – Hedger trimmers can make quick work of chopping feathers up prior to composting.

  • Mix with high-nitrogen materials – The carbon in feathers balances best with high-nitrogen materials like grass clippings.

Composting Feathers

  • Bury 1-2 feet deep – As with fur, burying feathers deep in the compost allows thorough breakdown.

  • Ensure adequate heat – Heat is crucial for composting feathers. Turn the pile to generate heat. Maintain 120-150F.

  • Mix in regularly – Aggressively mix compost containing feathers 1-2 times per week to heat and aerate it.

  • Wait 4-6 months – Feathers take longer to decompose fully than fur. Give your compost 4-6 months before using.

With the right technique, you can successfully compost feathers from chickens, parrots, ducks, and other birds in your care.

Troubleshooting Composting Pet Hair and Feathers

Composting pet fur and feathers isn’t difficult, but occasionally some issues pop up:

Problem: Fur or feathers are matted in compost

  • Solution: Use a pitchfork or rake to mix and fluff up the compost pile, pulling apart any clumps of matted fur or feathers.

Problem: Feathers won’t break down

  • Solution: Use a shredder, grinder or shears to chop feathers into tiny pieces before composting. Ensure temperature is 120-150F.

Problem: Fur smells bad in compost

  • Solution: Bury fur deeper under high-carbon materials like leaves or sawdust. Turn pile to increase airflow.

Problem: Animals are disturbed by compost

  • Solution: Use a closed compost bin or tumbler to keep fur and feathers contained. Bury compost under soil or mulch.

Adjust your approach until you find the method that works for a successful compost pile. With some trial and error, you can keep your pet’s fur and feathers out of the landfill.

Benefits of Using Pet Fur and Feather Compost

Composting your pet’s fur and feathers provides an excellent organic fertilizer for your garden. Here are some of the biggest benefits of using pet hair/feather compost:

  • Rich in nutrients – Contains nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus, potassium and micronutrients plants need.

  • Improves soil structure – Adds organic matter to improve drainage, aeration and moisture retention.

  • Promotes healthy root growth – The nutrients and improved soil provides ideal conditions for robust plants.

  • Increases moisture retention – The compost holds water effectively to reduce drought stress on plants.

  • Enhances microbial life – Supports earthworms, fungi, bacteria and other vital soil organisms.

  • Sustainable fertilizer source – Provides an ongoing in-house source of fertilizer for gardeners.

Overall, compost made from pet fur and feathers serves as a nutritious plant food to boost flower, vegetable, and herb gardens organically.

Final Tips for Success

Composting pet hair and feathers sustains a zero-waste lifestyle. Follow these final tips for composting success:

  • Start composting fur and feathers as soon as you bring home a new pet. This prevents buildup.

  • Find the ideal fur/feather to carbon ratio through trial and error. Too much carbon slows breakdown.

  • Use a compost thermometer to monitor internal temperature. Adjust as needed.

  • Grind feathers and chop fur into very small pieces before composting for efficiency.

  • Fluff and turn the compost pile weekly for aeration. Move material from the outside edges to the center.

  • Keep compost moist like a wrung-out sponge. Fur and feathers need moisture to decompose.

  • Sift finished compost through a wire mesh screen to catch any un-decomposed remnants.

Composting your pet’s fur and feathers recycles waste in an eco-friendly way. With the right methods, you can turn shed hair and plumage into black gold for your garden! Start composting pet fur and feathers today.