There are lots of benefits to keeping chickens. One of my favorites is that, if you garden, you can use your composted chicken manure as fertilizer. But what you might not know is just how many chicken manure benefits there are. Composted manure is composted manure, right? Wrong! There are chicken manure benefits you may not be aware of. Let's take a look at some important chicken manure benefits (when compared with the benefits animal manure in general): 1. Calcium is an important nutrient plants need, and chicken manure helps provide that, moreso than other animal manures. Hens need a lot of calcium to produce eggs--their feed therefore contains a lot of calcium, and since chickens don't metabolize it all, a lot is excreted in their droppings. With tomatoes, for example, having enough accessible calcium means blossom end rot can be reduced. 2. Studies show that plants are more easily able to absorb calcium from manure than from lime, and that calcium available in chicken manure raises soil pH as effectively as does lime. This is great news if you live in an area of acid soils, where you may otherwise need to adjust soil pH upward with lime, for example. But if you live on chalky, basic soils, you'll need to be sure to pay attention to your pH over the years, because you may need to use acidifying amendments such as sulphur to maintain a proper soil pH in your garden. (Maintaining an appropriate soil pH means that other nutrients become more easily available to your plants; if the soil pH gets too acidic or too basic, either one, it can be difficult to grow healthy plants.) 3. Poultry manure can help reduce aluminum toxicity in your soil. Aluminum toxicity is a special problem in humid temperate regions like West Virginia and other Mid-Atlantic states, as well as in humid subtropical areas like the South, where soils are chiefly ultisols. Aluminum toxicity in Appalachia can be exacerbated where the Big Coal Lobby has "for years been urging DEP to relax its aluminum limits," and where existing coal mining pollution is now "being cited as an excuse to allowing high levels of aluminum" in the future. Other industrial areas can suffer from the similar pollution issues. Aluminum is more soluble in soils that are acidic, and too much aluminum stunts root growth and can cause other problems. Isn't it fabulous that your composted poultry manure can help mitigate these issues?