Chickens can be raised in a manner to minimize waste and increase efficiency in a garden. A March 7, 1993 New York Times article called What a Little Chicken Breath Can Do, describes how growing chickens in an indoor green house can contribute warmth and nitrogen to the growing plants.
Even on a blustery zero-degree day, it's so warm - 80 degrees - in Anna Edey's solar greenhouse on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts that the vents are open. .. "Each chicken puts out eight BTU an hour per pound", Ms. Edey said, as the clucking of hens and the occasional crows of two roosters filtered through the north wall. Each hen, scratching about on the earth floor and laying eggs in coops next to the green house wall (lined with 50 gallon bags of water that collect heat), saves the business about two and a half gallons of fuel oil a year.
Not to mention the gold in chicken breath. .. "They're producing CO2, which plants need because carbon is their basic building block", said Ms. Edey. .. "The carbon dioxide content in the greenhouse is about three or four times as high as in the air outside", she added. ... The flock produced plenty of carbon dioxide and body heat for the green house, as well as high-nitrogen manure.
Did she ever smell ammonia, a byproduct of the bird's waste? [The] people at New Alchemy Institute had heated their greenhouse with manure and vented the ammonia through perforated pipes in the soil. "The moisture, carbon and microbes in the soil help transform ammonia into nitrogen, which fertilizes the plants," Ms. Edey said.