What to Do About Emu Poo: Some Stinky Solutions

An emu farmer recently asked what do to with a pen full of black, oozy sludge that turned out to be emu manure. Was he just supposed to muck out the pen and dispose of it or could he sell the manure?

His fellow emu farmers had this to say about emu poo:

  • Leave it. Emu manure makes atomic fertilizer.
  • Compost it with lawn clippings, leaves, and tree mulch.
  • Layer it with sand so it’s not so sludgy.
  • Fill a wheelbarrow and cast it around landscaping.
  • Spread straw across it and allow the emu to stomp the straw into the manure.
  • Rake it and bake it in the sun before tossing into wood chipper with peanut shells to make fertilizer.
  • Pack it in two- or five-gallon buckets or feed bags and sell it.
  • Invite grain farmers and gardeners to bring a truck or trailer and load it up.

Whether you keep the poo or profit from it, make sure you have a solid manure management system in place. It is important to practice good sanitation not only to ensure the wellness of your birds but the environment too.

Fresh emu manure can be added to soil immediately since it is water insoluble. Another advantage of emu manure is it doesn’t smell as bad as other livestock manure.

Before you do anything with emu poo, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds you to consider these factors:

  • Closeness of manure to water wells, streams, flood zones, etc.
  • Frequency of removal for disposal or usage
  • Composting and spreading style

A manure management system should include proper:

  • Collection and Storage. In order to calculate the amount of storage you will need, measure the average daily waste (manure and bedding) and multiply that amount by the number of days between planned removal for disposal or utilization. Manure should be enclosed or covered when stored to minimize pests and prevent pollution.
  • Treatment. Are you going to leave the manure as is or will you mix it with bedding and other organics? Piles of manure left to compost must be turned on a weekly basis to keep from spontaneously combusting and to achieve optimal moisture content.
  • Transfer and Utilization. Spreading (working it into the soil) manure as fertilizer for crop fields, gardens, or landscaping should be done in the spring or fall for best results.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), composting requires three basic ingredients:

  • Browns. Also known as bedding. Can include dead tree branches and leaves, wood chips, hay, straw, cardboard, newspaper, and sawdust. Provides the carbon needed to compost.
  • Greens. Also known as organics. Aside from emu poo, can include fruits and vegetables, eggshells, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, nutshells, grass clippings, yard trimmings, houseplants, cotton and wool rags, dryer lint, hair, fur, and fireplace ashes. Provides the nitrogen needed to compost.
  • Water. Provides the moisture as needed to break down the matter for compost.

True composting requires leaving the pile or bin to “cook” for at least two months. You will know the compost is ready to be used when it looks and feels like dark, rich soil, has an earthy smell, and/or weeds are growing out of it.