Can You Compost Chicken Bones? 

chicken bones compost
Like other organic materials, you can compost chicken bones. The bones are relatively slim, fine, and brittle, so they break down easily in a compost pile. Chicken bones are rich in calcium, phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, and other minerals necessary for your garden plants or flower beds. 

So, if you have any leftover chicken bones, don’t just toss them away.

Keep reading to learn more about how you can give them a second life through composting.

Are Chicken Bones Compostable?

Yes, chicken bones are compostable. It’s possible to compost both raw and cooked bones. However, it’s advisable to compost cooked bones to speed up decomposition and prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.

Chicken bones, particularly wing bones, are the best for compositing because they are brittle, which allows them to decay quickly.

You can also compost the bones in a pile with other organic material, such as leaves, wheat bran, sawdust, or other food wastes.

Just make sure there is enough moisture and aeration to ensure proper decomposition.

Check out our video below on how to best compost animal bones.

What To Know Before Adding Chicken Bones to Your Compost

With proper measures, you can easily compost chicken bones. The only difference is that they’ll require a bit more time to break down, as they contain calcium which hardens their structure.

For this reason, you shouldn’t compost chicken carcasses with other kitchen scraps (fruits and vegetables).

The bones should be heated first in a separate container or pile before adding them to the compost—heating hastens decomposition.

So what happens if you don’t compost the bones properly?

  • Decomposing meaty bones will attract pests and wild animals.
  • Risk of pathogen (E.coli) exposure that can cause diseases to spread to your crops.
  • Unprocessed bones may emit a foul smell.

Are Chicken Bones Biodegradable?

Absolutely. Chicken bones are biodegradable. The bones contain organic compounds such as phosphates and calcium, which readily react with acids to accelerate the disintegration of the bones.

Therefore, as with any organic matter, it’s best to avoid throwing chicken bones or other biodegradable material in landfills. Instead, try composting or burying them in the backyard.

While the decomposition process can take months or even years, depending on the size of the bone and environmental factors such as temperature and moisture, the bones will eventually break down—releasing nutrients to the soil.  

Are Chicken Bones Good for the Soil?

Chicken bones are good for the soil if broken down sufficiently to form a bone meal. They add nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium to the soil, which helps in growing healthy plants.

Although these types of bones are a good source of nutrients to the soil, they take longer to break down than other organic materials.

There are, however, a few techniques that can help you speed up the breakdown process.

How Long Do Chicken Bones Take to Compost?

Chicken bones can compost in as little as 60 days when properly composted. Typically, a few factors can influence how long it takes for chicken bones to compost.

For instance, the compositing process may take longer if the bones and the compost are dry. 

Other factors that could speed up or slow down the composting process include:

Aeration in the Pile

How often do you turn the compost? Efficient decomposition can only take place in the presence of oxygen. 
Turning the compost from time to time helps to provide air and encourage efficient decomposition. 

Amount of Surface Exposed

When you pile bones on top of each other, they may not get enough exposure to the oxygen in the air. This can slow down the composting process.

If you only have small pieces or piles of animal bones, it might be easier to turn them every day.

The Temperature of the Compost Pile

The hotter the compost, the faster it will decompose. This is why you might see a quicker decomposition when turning the compost or keeping it warm.

 However, if the compost gets too hot, bacteria can start to die and spoil the process.

The volume of Bones to be Composted

The more bones in a pile, the slower it will compost. A good rule of thumb is to break up your larger bones into smaller pieces before adding them to the compost to speed up the process.

Keep in mind that it’s always best to consult a professional when composting any organic material. They can help you determine the correct mix of materials and estimate how long they will take to compost.

Which Compost Methods Are Best for Composting Chicken Bones?

There are two most common chicken bone composting methods:

1. Hot Composting 

Hot compost involves optimizing the decomposition process of chicken bones by ensuring moisture, temperature, microbial activities, and the nitrogen-to-carbon ratio are well balanced in a hot compost pile. The result is high-quality compost that is ideal for use in the garden.

Here are a few steps to follow when composting chicken bones:

Step 1: Select a location

Step 2: Add brown material (such as sawdust, paper waste, and grass clippings) as the first layer 

Step 3: Add nitrogen-rich green material as the second layer

Step 4: Repeat steps 1 and 2

Step 5: Regularly check on the compost bin or pile to ensure it’s aerated and most

Step 6: Harvest and bury the compost in the soil

2. Bokashi Bucket Composting  

With bokashi composting, chicken bones are mixed with bulking agents like wheat bran, molasses, sawdust, or corn kernel before being placed in an airtight container or bin.

The mixture speeds up the composting process because yeast, fungi, and other bacteria are involved in the fermentation process.

Here are the steps to follow for this type of cold composting:

Step1:  Set up your composter, i.e., compost bin

Step 2: Add a thin layer of wheat bran

Step 3: Add a layer of your food waste or food scrap

Step 4: Repeat steps 1 and 2

Step 5: Cover the container with a bucket liner

Step 6: Harvest and bury the compost in the soil


Discovering composting as a way of life or even better, as nature’s way of recycling, Ana dedicates her time to trying out new methods of composting at home. Her goal is to share everything that she’s learned in the hopes that it will help others discover the amazing rewards of composting.

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