Can you compost chicken bones? Yes, If You Avoid These Mistakes

Pile of leftover chicken bones on a plate

Chicken is one of the most commonly consumed animal products, so that means a looooot of chicken bones. Much of these end up in landfills where they’re not only wasted, but contribute to methane trapping heat in our atmosphere as the bones, (and other organic materials), decompose. Luckily, there are ways to reduce harmful emissions by eliminating food waste through the composting process. In this case? Those pesky, pesky chicken bones So, can you put chicken bones in your compost pile? Read on to find out!

So can you compost chicken bones? When starting out, it can be difficult to know what is acceptable to compost. Bones, especially, can be divisive, depending on size, hardness, and density. Chicken bones, fortunately, are easier to deal with.

Are chicken bones compostable?

Leftover chicken bones on a table

Yes. Chicken bones can be composted but specific methods must be used, as bones are difficult to break down. Raw bones can carry disease, attract pests, or smell rancid. Cooking them helps alleviate this. Breaking them into small pieces helps them decompose quicker, otherwise, it can take months to years.

There are several methods to help compost chicken bones. One example is an electric composter, such as Lomi, which you can add chicken bones to if they’re in smaller pieces. This is because Lomi is built to process compost much faster than other systems. Another alternative is the bokashi bin, which uses fermented organic matter to help bones decompose.


Lomi by Pela



Lomi allows you to turn food waste into plant-ready nutrients in under 24 hours. Boost your plants while reducing your waste.


5 ways to compost chicken bones at home

Can you put bones in the compost pile? Some sources say composting large bones isn’t recommended, as they can take several years to fully decompose, that is if pests and wildlife don’t snatch them first. However, chicken bones take less time to process, so they can absolutely go into your compost bin, so long as you follow certain guidelines. Here are five methods to compost chicken bones.

1. Composting with Lomi

Woman holding plant and reaching into Lomi composter

Lomi is a countertop composter that makes dealing with food waste and organic matter easy. Through heat and abrasion, it transforms food scraps, organic waste and other approved materials into nutrient-rich Lomi dirt.

Lomi is cleaner and faster than traditional composting. It’s only a matter of hours until you have microbe-dense Lomi dirt available for immediate use. This can then be used in your garden, to encourage healthy plant growth, or even fertilize your lawn. It’s a great option for those trying to get as close to zero waste as possible, while still being convenient.

As for adding bones to your Lomi, it all depends on the type. Hard, large bones should never be introduced to your machine. Fish bones, however, and small, soft, cooked chicken bones, can be processed this way. So yes, you can compost chicken bone if it matches these prerequisites. Just be sure you pay attention to what you’re putting into your Lomi and use smaller chunks. Only insert approved materials for your Lomi. Otherwise, you could damage your machine and cause blockages.



2. Bury bones in your compost pile

A woman burying compost heap

The idea is to bury chicken bones where it’s warmer so it breaks down faster, doesn’t attract pests and decreases the smell. So put them deep.That said, this type of low-heat, cold compost pile will be slower than other methods so be sure to cook the bones and break them into smaller sizes to help them decompose faster. 

It’s also important to learn the basics of composting, to better understand how various components work together. For instance, be sure to separate your poultry bones into food waste, rather than just tossing them in your compost bin with vegetable and fruit leavings. One reason for this is it helps eliminate the possibility of cross contamination if there are still harmful bacteria on your meat by-products. Especially important if you use the composted fertilizer in your garden.

3. Hot composting

Pile of old straw with steam rising off it

If you’re looking to deal with chicken bones, hot composts may be your answer. Temperature is an important component in processing compost. This heat level can be achieved through insulating layers of materials such as straw, dead plants and other brown waste, within your hot bin.

Other factors in the hot compost method include sun exposure, pile size, and the right ratio of carbon to nitrogen. The end result is optimized microbial activity, moisture, and carbon/nitrogen balance. This equals faster decomposition, even for chicken bones. Bonus? The higher temperature helps neutralize the less than lovely smell created by odor-causing bacteria that may be left on unprocessed bones.

4. Bokashi Bin

Bokashi bucket composting is different from more traditional methods. It uses fermentation, rather than oxygen, to break down materials. This produces,“bokashi tea,” a liquid full of nutrients (great for your garden) that is drained from a spigot as it collects. For this reason, be sure to use the correct bin if you go this route or you may end up with a mess!

Because of this closed system, the micro-organisms in the bokashi mixture, and the fermentation, this means no putrid smells. Yay! This process also allows the bokashi method to handle less traditional compost matter. Even dairy and cheese can be composted in this manner, along with meat, and bones, so long as they aren’t too big.



5. Curbside organic collection services

Old man collecting yard debris in a bag

Some counties may have a compost collecting service. Often, these are included with your yard waste pick up. They may even provide a collection bin for kitchen scraps, organic materials, and other waste that match the county’s criteria. This is emptied into your yard debris container and picked up with your regular service, where it goes to a facility to produce composted products for use. Be sure to check your local providers to see if this is something they offer.

Another, similar, option is to enroll in a monthly private compost service. Depending on the area you live, there may be a company that will come directly to your house and pick up your compost at a predetermined frequency, depending on what tier of plan you purchase. Often, the collected compost ends up being donated to a community garden or local urban farm, where it’s eventually used as fertilizer to help enrich plant life and vegetation.

5 mistakes to avoid when composting chicken bones

A bowl with leftover chicken bones

Composting chicken bones can be tricky. Here are 5 mistakes to avoid.

  1. You don’t remove the meat properly: Do you like smelly, stinky, rotting meat smell? No? Clean the bones well. Meat remnants also attract animals and pests. Never fun. That said, you can compost meat with the right system. Lomi, for instance, handles meat remnants because of its grinders and accelerated, self-contained process. It works too quickly for meat to have a chance to rot, eliminating these issues.
  1. You didn’t cook the bones: Cooked bones break down faster and easier than raw ones, by far. Cooking also helps prevent contamination from harmful bacteria such as E. coli, which can hang around longer than you’d think. This contamination could spread to local wildlife and plant life. Nobody wants that. Cooking bones can be done through boiling, baking, or even burning them in a fire, if done safely.
  1. You didn’t break the bones down: Bones can take a long time to decompose, especially when left in large pieces. The smaller they are, the easier to compost so be sure to fully break the chicken bones into smaller pieces or chunks. 
  1. You didn’t bury them deep enough: Depending on your composting method, you may be burying the chicken bones directly in your compost pile. If so, make sure you have them deep enough not to attract animals, flies, or cause nasty, nasty smells.
  1. You weren’t careful: Be sure when composting meat and chicken bones that you take precautions. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw items. When cooking bones, be especially careful if using a fire based approach. Lastly, be aware that bones can be sharp. So take care when breaking them down. 



Wait. What about feathers? Can you compost chicken feathers?

Four brown feathers on white background

Yes! Unlike bones, composting chicken feathers is much simpler. They are very nitrogen-rich and can be categorized as a green material. Feathers break down completely within a few months and can be used to add nitrogen content to soil. Make certain your feather source is free of disease, however, to avoid contamination. 

Be sure the feathers are natural. Various kinds will work, so old feather pillows are a great source. Be aware that some commercially sourced feathers are made of thermoplastic, a harmful petroleum-based material detrimental to the environment. So pay attention to where those feathers are coming from. Chicken coops are a good place to get your supply. 

Another tip? Weigh the feathers down by soaking them in water, or cover the compost heap or bin. Otherwise all it takes is a good gust of wind and…bye-bye feathers.

Lastly, know where your feathers are coming from so they’re free of diseases and infections. You don’t need that ending up in your garden.

Try Lomi - a convenient way to compost chicken bones & meat at home

Smiling father and daughter with lomi composter

So, can you compost chicken bones? Absolutely! You now know the ways to deal with meat products, chicken bones, and even feathers. Hot compost, bokashi bin, burying, and so on. What process you use will depend on your lifestyle, budget, and priorities.

If you want a hassle free, easy method for your food waste, Lomi is a convenient way to compost from the comfort of your own kitchen. It’s faster, cleaner, and simpler than traditional methods, while still being eco-friendly.

Why do people love Lomi? Because it provides an innovative, easy way to handle your food waste and gets the job done quickly! Take a look and see why Lomi is a great solution to the messy side of composting. 

Written by: Heidi Edwards