Pet waste compost system

One of less glamorous parts of dog ownership is picking up after their bowel movements! Our dogs poo has always been dealt with on site, even when we lived in a unit in Auckland with hardly any garden. Here’s how:

Use a biodegradable bag to pick up the poo. We have used BioDog bags. These bags are certified biodegradable and will disappear in about 90 days in a good compost environment. (There is a lot of false and confusing claims when things look like plastic but can be put in your compost – this is a brand I trust).

If you are at home, skip the bag and just use a scoop of some sort.

You need a special compost for the poo. Poo from meat eaters – cats, dogs, people etc have pathogens that can make us sick if we touch it. (On the other hand manure from horses, cows and other vegetarians animals is awesome in your compost).

A pet waste compost system can be as simple as a hole in the ground it is easy to build your own. In addition, we throw worms from the worm farm in and other food scraps in to get it going. Otherwise its hard for the system to get started.

Another option, which we did in the unit when we were short on space, was to take an old crate; Ensure there are holes/ slits in the side; Fashion a hole in the centre of the base and snuggley fit a pvc pipe into the hole (use an off cut from somewhere, a building site perhaps? keep your eye out); Dig a hole big enough bury the crate; Turn the crate upside down, bury it in the hole; The PVC pipe will be the only thing sticking up out of the ground, use this as the shoot to put the poo down. Plant something in front of it and no one will ever know its there.

The holes in the side are so the worms can escape if the water table rises. The crate itself is just so your hole doesn’t cave in.

Our DIY composting dog poo worm farm, prior to being buried (this was a later model with two shoots)
An earlier model, with only one shoot, buried in the garden.

We have always left the resulting compost in the ground and planted something on top of it. Its safe to plant anything on top, the pathogens disappear with composting, but also can’t travel through the plants. But there are different opinions online, so do what you are comfortable with (you could get sick if it hasn’t composted before you dig it in and a physical particle, perhaps too small to see, touches a plant you eat).

The compost is a good rich feed for whatever you plant on top. Whatever way you do it the resulting hummus created is great for ornamental plants and gardens.

Thanks to Nikki who emailed saying; “I have a three tier worm farm that feeds on 99% doggy doo. This emits no smell and the worms do a brilliant job breaking it down into great fertiliser for the garden. Just make sure if you are worming your dog however that you do not put the doggy doo in the worm farm for three weeks as this could kill the farm.”

Food

Where possible try and buy food in bulk. We bought dry food for our dog from the Bin Inn which worked out really well. Otherwise go for the biggest bag possible. Some are plastic, others are heavy duty brown paper with a plastic lining. We have been able to separate out this lining, which is rubbish, and compost the paper.

Another idea is to buy offcuts direct from the butcher.

Whatever you do make sure your pet gets all the nutrients it needs.

Kitty Litter

A lot of kitty litter apparently contains clay which doesn’t biodegrade easily, so instead look for alternatives such as recycled newspaper or untreated wood shavings.