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My city's policies on keeping chickens makes it difficult to use them for their composting abilities. I'm looking for alternatives. By my understanding, chickens can take insects and weeds (two major garden problems) and creates nitrogen rich manure. As a bonus, if I provide the carbonaceous material, the chickens will do all the work of turning it for me.

Vermicomposting could be considered an alternative, although it's not necessarily exclusive with having chickens. They would probably be considered as agents in different layers of the ecosystem.

In terms of usefulness for compost, what are good alternatives to keeping chickens?

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Quail

Though I haven't kept them myself, I remember reading that quail tend to be much quieter than chickens (especially when compared with roosters!), require a smaller area to live and are well suited for suburban backyards. They and their eggs can be eaten and are generally considered a delicacy. Here's a basic introduction about them: http://www.quailfarm.co.uk/

I found a reference to a successful "quail tractor", so it appears they might help you with your weeding too (but watch you don't squash them while moving the coop).

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