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Liesje 04-17-2014 01:55 PM

Composting dog waste
I am interested in hearing from anyone who.....

1. Lives in an area with a frost line (ground is frozen rock solid during end of fall, winter, and, into spring)

2. Has *at least* three large dogs

3. Has successfully figured out a way to "compost" or otherwise dispose of dog waste and has used said method for 2+ years

Why the three criteria? I've gone around in circles with this and 99% of the information I find online or responses I get do not apply to me whatsoever because they are from people who have one or two little dogs and can or have successfully used a "dooley" system because they are only dealing with a fraction of the waste generated by 3-4 GSD-sized dogs and/or don't have to deal with a frost line. When Googling for more information, all I get are products that I have already tried (or installed and used my own variations, often larger, but do not work long term due to #1 and #2 above) or people in the same situation as I am asking the same questions.

A few years ago I installed my own 40 gallon "dooley" system, but it only lasted about a year and a half. I couldn't keep enough water in the system to break down waste fast enough, I had 3-4 large dogs at a time (all popping in my urban yard, not on walks or on acreage where I leave it be), and during the frozen months what little break down was occurring stopped altogether. The front line here is 32-48", so a dooley system has to be *below* that point to work during the winter (plus keep wet) which was impossible for me to dig by hand. After that attempt, I would dig another big hole, fill it, and when full cover it and move a few feet over. Since my entire property including home, garage, driveway, and shed is about 150'x44' that left very little room for digging holes in the back corner and this space is now "full" until stuff breaks down (can take years for dog waste to break down).

Right now I have a separate bin in my garage lined with contractor-strength trash bags, but this is annoying for several reasons: 1) the bin smells already, I don't even want to think about once it gets hot and humid and 2) normally I don't put trash out every week. Recycling is free here and we recycle so much I only have my trash bin out once every 2-3 weeks (we have a pay-as-you-tip system for city trash carts), but now that I'm bagging dog waste, I want it gone ASAP, and 3) I hate putting what is basically organic waste into plastic bags and sending it to the dump.

I'm not sure if there's a way to continually compost pet waste in an urban environment with 4 dogs 40-80lbs (plus fosters), but I'd like to give it one more shot. I've considered getting worms, but this can be costly up front so I'd like to hear from someone who's successfully vermicomposted pet waste.

Sunflowers 04-17-2014 03:24 PM

179 Attachment(s)
I thought you were not supposed to compost animal waste because of E. coli and other pathogens.

Liesje 04-17-2014 03:27 PM

You don't compost it with other stuff you'd normally spread in a garden. I want to compost it separately (and not use the soil). We have a traditional compost pile for organic kitchen waste.

Mister C 04-17-2014 04:35 PM

This topic interested me even though I don't really compost (but should).

This study from Alaska is the best info I could find.
Composting Pet Waste - The Ultimate Pet Waste Disposal System

Here is an except:

"Composting and Winter

It is possible to compost into the fall, but eventually
the cold inhibits the microbial activity. The result is a
build up of dog waste in the winter months. With a
little planning, the buildup can be added to bins
during the winter, and then effectively composted in
the warmer months. During the Fairbanks Soil and
Water Conservation District study, these steps
encouraged good composting throughout the year:

• When clearing waste from the dog area, add the
carbon source directly to your bucket,
wheelbarrow or whatever receptacle you use for
collection. Mix the carbon source and dog waste
together, then add the mix to the compost bin.
• Store the compost ingredients directly in the
bins; after spring thaw, turn the pile and add
water to begin composting.
• Avoid mixing excess snow with the dog waste.
• Don’t let your pile grow too large. If your winter
compost pile will exceed five feet across before
spring, either start a second pile or consult local
NRCS staff for more information on large-scale
animal waste composting systems."

Off the top of my head I might be tempted to try adding heat to the compost pile. A roof/gutter heater (basically fancy, weatherproof heat tape) could perhaps be applied to the compost container. Drip irrigation tubes feed by gray water might be used to keep it wet. The cost of buying and operating may be prohibitive, however. Just some untested ideas for you.

Less relevant but perhaps useful info below.

DIY larger 55gal composter for dog waste but lots of digging needed. Maybe train your dogs to dig on command? lol

Big one here
Big Dog Poop Composter (made from salvaged materials)

If you live in Alaska this would be a good solution.
IditaGrow – Dog Waste Engineers | Gold Rush Sled Dogs

volcano 04-17-2014 05:21 PM

Its probably smelly but if you burn a fire on top of the poop itd probably degrade faster.

wolfy dog 04-17-2014 06:13 PM

I will sound completely irresponsible but here goes. I have a plastic liner in a metal waste container and throw it out on garbage day. Tried all the other methods and none worked. I compost everything else that is compostable, recycle dutifully, live healthy, etc. so I don't feel guilty. My hippie friends frown upon it though. Oh well...

carmspack 04-17-2014 06:46 PM

when feeding a raw diet very little organic material remains, mostly boney material .
I collect mine in a big pail and have added straw , leaves, or pine shavings. When the bucket is full I take the wheel barrow and feed the trees . There is no smell.
For wet material you can add Super Dijest-It™ Dog Septic System Tank Toilet Chemicals - Unique Distributors or enzymes that you get at the local box store hardware for bilge clean out , RV's or boats Septic System Digesters, Specializing in septic tank system, septic system alternatives, septic system maintenance, septic system costs, septic system care, septic system problems, septic system work,

I was given Lim'nate by a person who no longer had need for the Doggie Dooley --- works well in ground or above ground Lim'nate Sanitary Digester. $6.45 (Save $2.54)
Lim'nate Sanitary Digester Powder for Dog Droppings 12-Pack of 1 LB Cartons

Susan_GSD_mom 04-17-2014 07:01 PM

We're in mid Michigan, and I feel your pain! I have had three very large GSDs at one time before, two now. Until a year ago we had 2.25 acres, and we would just pick a new spot to bury it, eventually plan a flower bed over that area. We also used to bury it in exiating flower beds (it helped prevent the dogs from digging in them). Cover them with a thick layer of leaves in the fall(10-12 in.) and you can still dig it in under the leaves for much of the winter. In the spring, when you have to clean the yard of all the "land mines" that appear when the snow melts, I bagged a lot of it up and put it out with the trash, not too much per bag as it was too heavy!

Dog poop does take a LONG time to compost, even to break down when you bury it. Now we have only 1/2 acre, and I am starting to face your same issues, although you have a much smaller space. We do still plan on flower beds, so they will begin with a layer of buried dog poop!

For composting as you hope to do, would the compost starter stuff you can add to your regular compost pile help? I know it's supposed to help leaves, etc., perhaps it will help with dog poop.

Even though it's frowned on, I would still rely on bagging some of it up. It's a lot less dangerous than most of the stuff that goes into land fills! I have a heavy duty can for that, and the lid fits tight to help keep the smell down. Lime would help with that, too.


Liesje 04-17-2014 07:30 PM

I used Rid-X/septic stuff in my home made dooley and it didn't help. I looked into buying worms for a vermicomposting system, but it can be pretty expensive up front and I couldn't find any sources saying it would work for pet waste. The issues with my composter were that it wasn't buried deep enough and I couldn't keep it wet enough. We have sandy soil so it drains fast which is REALLY nice like this past weekend when 100" of snow and ice from the winter melted plus it rained several days yet my yard is dry 12 hours later and also helps drain out the bottom of the composter (it's bottom-less) but in order to keep things "going" you basically have to fill it with water daily. Paying for city water and filling up 40 gallons is more cost plus another daily chore.

SuperG 04-17-2014 07:34 PM

Composting manure with protein in it is something the North Koreans do.....they call it "night soil "...which is chock full of nasty human crap....pun intended...such as disease causing pathogens, parasitic worms et al.

Not sure what the intended benefit is of composting dog crap but I would make certain it is fully decomposed to weaken any potential health risks for any and all involved.


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