Good points. Let me just add to them, if I can.
The appropriate temp varies with time exposure. The longer the temp is held,
the lower it can be. At the temps you mention, mere hours are enough. Even
poorly built piles of adequate size will attain core temps of 130 F. for
the week or so that is recommended.
Here's the kicker: even if the pile never does go above body temperature,
eventually the parasites die anyways. Why?
No food. Temperature extremes. Ultraviolet light sterilization. Falling prey
to other biota. Dryness. None of these mechanisms alone is enough, but they
each take a toll and the combined toll IS enough. We just need to give the
pile time if we can't give it heat.
I want to make what I think is an important point. We are not trying to make
the compost absolutely sterile. That is not the goal at all. We only hope
to make it as safe as the soil it is used in and on. Culture a petri dish
of soil sometime and you'll see that this is an easy target to reach.
Composting is simply the act of gathering together and concentrating the
processes that occur naturally without human intervention. Who here fears
forest soil? Who even cares if a bear made a doo-doo on it last year? Who
cares if a deer carcass rotted on it five years ago? Or if a mouse or
squirrel shat on it today? The bear doo-doo and the deer carcass benefitted
from time, not temp. and the only trace they left behind was soil that was
richer for their presence. The rodent doo-doo is simply accepted because
there is little choice and little risk. We want that bushel of soil, rat
poop and all, because we know how fertile it is. We'll take our chances
with the poop.
We let the three year old eat the green bean fresh from the vine with little
concern for what the wind, bird and bug have left behind. Why? Because we
want her to love gardens as we do. It's a calculated risk ... and we all
Gardening is simply the act of working with natural processes to grow
specific species of plants that we find useful. Making compost is just one
of those natural processes. Taking reasonable risks is part of
gardening ... as it is all of life.
Don't dust, rub or spray your plants with diseased manure / urine and the
processes that were in place in the Garden of Eden will take care of the
rest. With or without our help, depending on how much of a hurry we are in
to relax in the garden.
Right. As I pointed out, roundworms are in ordinary soil everywhere,
in fact the most common way dogs pick up fresh infestations is walking
on dirt then licking their feet. (Tho a dog on a meat-based diet will
have a gut water balance and immune response that keeps ascarids at a
very low level; also, there is some evidence that a low population of
"normal" parasites are *required* for truly sound intestinal balance.
Which a lot of breeders had already noticed, since 100%-parasite-free
puppies tend to have more issues with unexplained diarrhea.)
Right. The odd lump here and there from reasonably healthy critters
(or dead critters from natural causes) won't hurt anything and will
provide concentrated nitrogen. But this is different from trying to
make compost from materials that are *primarily* poop (or corpses :)
In nature, poop gets dropped here and there, is a very tiny minority
of the total, and is worked upon by all the stuff around it. It's not
piled all in one big heap. (Tho Garden Cat is making the attempt...
she's got two distinct *piles* going in my side yard -- not that it's
going to hurt the desert sand much.)
BTW, some years ago someone did some research on why certain swaths of
Europe, most notably in Germany and France, have such spectacularly
lush growth, above and beyond what is typical for the region. A glance
at historical maps, and some digging, made the reason obvious: these
are areas that have been battlegrounds for centuries, and have a
rather high concentration of, um, composted corpses (blood is a
wonderful fertilizer!) and rusted armour.
And there is somewhat more risk in over-protecting a child from their
environment anyway, as the immune system *requires* a certain level of
challenges to develop proper and normal immunity to the ordinary gunk
of Real Life. Frex, it's been discovered that kids who grow up around
dogs and cats have a much lower incidence of allergies as adults,
because their immune systems got a useful level of challenge for
developing to best performance and least chance of overreaction
(allergy being essentially an immune overreaction). Eating a bit of
healthy garden dirt now and then isn't going to hurt a kid, in fact
it's far more likely to be good for 'em.
True ... but you would be ill-advised to make compost from strictly
high-nitrogen materials from any source. A pile of grass clippings will
eventually turn into a pile of compost (as will a pile of elephant doo-doo
or Roman soldiers) ... but woe to the poor soul who disturbs such a pile on
a hot day before the process is complete!
A pile made completely from high carbon materials would have problems too.
Not the same problems but, after a few years, it would become very evident
that the piles were working just a little bit on the slow side.
I assumed that the person wanting to add doggie poop to their compost pile
would be adding it at some reasonable ratio to the rest of the ingredients.
If not, then the whole discussion is inverted and I would have to urge them
not to make a pile primarily of doggie-doo. Not because of disease but
because of stench.
In Genesis, God tells Adam that he is going to make the soil less fertile.
Armeggedon, with its incredible carnage, is a part of the process of
cleansing the planet and renewing it. As both a gardner and a Christian who
spends a great deal of time contemplating the scriptures, I have long
assumed that Armeggedon marks the time and manner when the fertility of the
soil is restored. The bodies (roughly 2/3 of the planet, if I did my math
right) will be too many to bury. God has told the surviving remnant that
their enemies will become dust at their feet. Apparently this has a literal
fulfillment. They will simply decompose where they fall ... like the green
swaths of Europe.
I really appreciate the posts you've made in this topic, with
scientific knowledge. Thanks.
I compost the dog doo here, because there's no other reasonable
way to dispose of the large quantities, and it's nice to know
that I'm not committing some horrible environmental sin ;-).
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Thank you, flick. Except for my own measurements in my own compost piles
meant to guide my own actions, I can not claim to have contributed anything
original of scientific value to the overall discussion.
Google is your friend. Especially, google is your friend when looking up
'humanure'. After you have read the whole Humanure Handbook, a lot of
websites with their elaborate 'shopping lists' of permitted and prohibited
materials are going to strike you as 'guesswork' (or worse) ... and
erroneous guesswork at that.
I don't approach this as a religion, but there are natural cycles in
nutrients that have been going on since life drew its first breath on this
planet. So long as mankind brings a little intelligence to the table, he
can use this cycle to his advantage.
Yeah, I ran into the Humanure Handbook when I googled a phrase
like "composting poop" or "composting manure." And after I read
parts of it, it just made *sense.* At the time, I was in the
city and trying to dispose of dog doo. It made my trash too
heavy for the disposal people to pick up (they had a weight
limit), and took up space in the cans that we needed for
household garbage, so I needed to do something and came up with
the trash can composting method.
There are a couple pages out there specifically about composting
dog doo, but I don't have the URLs handy.
I get a kick out of the sites that say not to put meat and bones
in the compost heap, but then there are people who compost whole
chickens, and there's info out there on how to do it right. Duh.
Carcasses came to my mind the other day as I was faced with the
hassle of burying a dead animal. I have between 5 and 10 acres,
and I would rather have left it unburied, well away from the
house and where we hike, and let nature dispose of it more
quickly. This time, the dead critter was too heavy for me to
move very far.
Digging a hole that won't get opened in the course of gardening,
say, is a darn deep hole and time consuming, and I've had the
unpleasant experience of a carcass "floating" up through the
ground, and having to re-bury it. Blech. How much quicker it
would be to put the carcass over in the corner, so to speak, and
avoid it until it was cleaned down to bone, which I imagine
wouldn't be real long here in the rural South.
Lest it sound like I'm a serial killer or something - small farm
breath on this
My main thought is not to overload the local ecosystem, if those
are the right words.
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Pretty much. And use a scrub brush with fine bristles -- surgical
scrub doodads are great for this sort of thing. Soap isn't necessary;
in fact the reason surgeons scrub like maniacs is primarily for
mechanical removal of bacteria, as this has been found to be more
effective than chemicals.
Well, there are pathogens that can survive plenty of abuse, as they
encapsulate. But composting certainly would get rid of the ones that
don't survive long outside the body or don't tolerate temperature
150 or so to kill the fragile ones. 180 for the tougher ones.
400 degrees to kill the really resistant ones that encapsulate. By
this point, one's compost pile is usually on fire. :)
Well, I have two gsd's (both very big and full of life) and a springer, and
my vet seems to be completely happy with their diet, which is based on a
prepared food (Wafcol veggie diet) supplemented with with fresh vegetarian
options from my own kitchen - which I put together after no small amount of
research. The elder shepherd has digestive issues with meat products. His
diet as a pup was quite a story. Both of the gsd's becpome veggies when they
became adults (though I still call the younger one my pup).
They are big and hearty enough for me and my vet, anyway, so pardon me if I
feel that as you don't know the dogs in question or the diet I feed them,
you cannot exactly comment on their diet or on any nutritional inadequacies
you might imagine they have.
Vets are not taught anything about diet in school. They go entirely by
what dog food companies send them. The ONLY company I've seen put out
honest information about canine dietary research is Purina, even if
they don't always follow their own advice. I used to manufacture dog
food for my own kennel, and my background is biochemistry; I've been
through all the original university-based research (not just
that skewed by manufacturers, or tinfoil-hat interests). Plus I have
35 years as a canine professional, feeding on average 30 to 40 dogs
every day, of every age. I am indeed qualified to comment, whether you
choose to believe it or not. However, I'll not go beyond this post,
because I no longer give canine advice for free (I presently charge
$75/incident), having wearied of wasting my breath with people who've
had some success with 2 or 3 pet dogs and think that makes them an
Dogs, being fairly flexible in what they can utilize, can scrape by on
such a diet, and even look good so long as the dog is not stressed
(tho if you have trouble keeping them out of the trash, it's due to
protein and fat deprivation). But if it gets sick, it's going to be in
a whole lot more trouble than a dog who has better reserves. And try
feeding this diet to a bitch nursing pups -- she'll be skin and bones
in a couple weeks, and look like death warmed over by weaning, no
matter how much she eats. Whereas a bitch fed a good diet will
actually gain weight while nursing.
BTW, the actual cost of ingredients and processing of any dog food is
$3 to $4 per 50 pounds. Everything else is distributor markup.
And I don't recommend it for compost, because it molds and draws
Longplain Kennels, Reg'd
old-fashioned classic Labs since 1969
(eleven generations to date)
This gets asked repeatedly, and you'll get answers on both sides.
I've been doing it for years, with no noticeable problems.
However, this is small healthy urban dog fed only prepared foods.
Some obvious risk factors for having nasties in the dog poop:
- dog doesn't get regular health checks and shots, etc.
- dog eats uncooked meat
- dog catches and eats wild prey
- dog has a lot of contact with many other dogs
Be sure your compost is well-rotted before, and for extra safety don't
apply directly on top of edible vegetables - better to dig into the
A L B E R T A Alfred Falk firstname.lastname@example.org
If it's your own dog who licks you, sits on you, and basically 'shares' himself
and whatever he may have inside him with you, and your compost is made
in hot batches it would probably be OK. But it's not something anyone would
encourage. (After all, I'm sure the dog has been wormed at intervals, right??)
Poop from strange dogs (or other carnivores) would definitely be RIGHT OUT!
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)
Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
No. The easiest way to know which is o.k. is to remember that any animal
that eats meat (carnivores) cannot be used in making compost. Herbivores
like cows, horses, chickens, etc. are o.k.
Zone 7b - North Carolina
It was one of my chores to put it there when I was a kid. Over the
years this involved several large dogs and was in what we called the
"compost heap" . not nearly as fancy as many believe composting to be.
As far as I know nobody ever got sick because of it.
Not everyone who has a dog "shares" with the dog. There are still some of
us who don't allow the dog on furniture, etc., and licking by the dog is
confined to the hands or arms (of the human), which are frequently washed.
(I've never licked my own hands after the dog has! Nor do I eat afterward
without washing). Also, there is a huge difference between saliva (and
what it may carry) and poop (and what it certainly carries!) . . . after
all, most people would not object to a kiss from a young child but
certainly don't want child poop distributed in the same way.
My point is that poop/feces has bacteria, etc., in it that is there
because of the digestive process and what the animal has eaten . . .
things that are definitely not in the same dog's "kisses." Yes, I know a
dog licks itself, but that "material" is significantly changed immediately
by the saliva in the dog's mouth. Saliva and poop are *not* the same!
It's not even an option to put this crap (literally) on the garden (even
through composting which may or may not be hot enough at any particular
time) because you are not the only person who might eat from that garden.
A principal that I always use is to consider the youngest eater of the
garden, which in this case is my granddaughters, and consider what even
minute amounts of something might do to their tiny bodies which have less
body mass to fight toxins/bacteria/bad guys as well as smaller and less
effective immune systems. Something that has not been mentioned in all
this discussion of human/predator manure is the extremely and tragically
high childhood death rate in countries which do routinely use it (for lack
of better). That is very definitely only one factor, but it is a factor.
Certainly, we, living in this country or even signified by the fact we
have computers (designating a different access to resources), are not
required to use potentially dangerous/harmful elements for fertilizer for
our very survival. While fertilizer is sold by many cities after
processing waste through the sewage treatment plants, it is not the same
as can be done by an individual. For 15 years, my husband worked on site
at a plant during expansion construction . . . trust me, *no* common
nasties can survive what they do to the sludge! And there is absolutely
no way that we can begin to process feces as effectively, short of buying
hospital grade sterilizing equipment . . . there is a reason they call it
"cooking" and refer to a step in the process as "roast turkey." The
discussions here about how to make it "safe" have bordered on amusing to
those who have some familiarity of the entire process of using sewage
waste for fertilizer . . . it isn't a simple matter of loading it and
trucking it to your garden.
Okay, I have that "off my chest" for now. It's time to go pull weeds after
our downpours of the last couple of days!
who knew there was a reason to
put off preparing the new beds
for the last of the purchased plants
You're overreacting, bigtime. Do you allow children to play in the
grass where maybe a dog has shit when you weren't looking? (BTW, the
risk with dog waste is parasites much more than it is bacteria.)
And that sewage sludge you mentioned may contain toxin metals that are
definately not cooked out.
Bob <-- supposed to be out gardening, but it's raining again.
LOL!! Speaking as a kennel owner who, like most kennel owners in the
normal course of life with multiple dogs, has had just about every
body part smeared with dog shit at one time or another (not to mention
having occasionally had it spattered in my eyes and mouth) -- about
all you really have to worry about is getting it into wounds that
cannot be thoroughly washed (such as puncture wounds), because of the
same types of bacteria that are present in ANY creature's shit, which
when out of their own environment will overgrow due to the lack of
checks and balances (other stuff that eats 'em in the gut).
And the same parasites that can infect dogs and people are naturally
present in the soil most places, so better stop walking around
outdoors, too :)
Sorry, no, that's a myth. If a dog licks its arse or eats its stool
or something else's stool (which is a common thing in dogs, even tho
most pet owners never see their beloved pet do it) the bacteria remain
in the mouth as long as it takes for food, drink, and saliva to wash
it away -- primarily by *mechanical action*. There is nothing magical
about dog saliva.
[Stool consumption in dogs is another topic, but is regulated by diet,
accessability, pecking order, and how many dogs are present.]
(35 years a canine professional)
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