The animal-based fertilizers below are commonly used in organic farming, and are found in many organic fertilizer mixes.
Manure: Cow, pig, chicken etc. This one shouldn’t shock anyone. I think we’ve all walked by a yard that had that tell- tale odor of “fresh manure-based fertilizer”. Did you know though that the manure you buy at your local gardening store may contain livestock-grade hormones and antibiotics that can be readily absorbed by the plants you are growing?
“….Minnesota researchers planted corn, green onion and cabbage in manure-treated soil in 2005 to evaluate the environmental impacts of feeding antibiotics to livestock. Six weeks later, the crops were analyzed and found to absorb chlortetracycline, a drug widely used to treat diseases in livestock…”
Feather meal: Feather meal is made from the ground feathers of birds such as chickens raised for consumption. It is partially hydrolyzed under high heat and pressure, and then ground up. Growers use this byproduct for its high nitrogen levels, despite the fact that plants cannot easily absorb it in this form.
Other misuses: Animal feed.
Bone Meal: Bones are stripped, dried, and ground. It is used for its high phosphorus and calcium content despite the fact that bone meal is dangerous to breathe and has been suggested as an agent for spreading Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) (the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy “mad cow disease”) to humans.
“Do you feed your roses with bone meal? Not a good idea, says the world’s foremost expert on a group of rare diseases, found in animals, that sometimes make their way into humans. Breathing in the dust from contaminated bone meal could be deadly, says Dr. D. Carleton Gajdusek (GUY-doo-sheck), a brilliant Harvard Medical School graduate and Nobel laureate.
In his latest book, Deadly Feasts (Simon & Schuster), author Richard Rhodes traces the history of these diseases, called spongi-form encephalopathies, that reduce the brain to a spongy mass, causing their victims to stagger, fall, develop dementia and paralysis, and soon die a terrible death.”-“Mad cow disease” from feeding your roses? – Medical Update September 1, 1997. Brown, Edwin W.
Bone Meal can also be a danger to your pets. If an animal consumes a large quantity of bone meal (for their size) it will form a cement-like ball in their stomach, which may block the digestive track and need to be removed by surgery.
Other misuses: Toothpastes, vitamins and supplements (calcium), animal feed.
BONE ASH (bone earth): Consisting of the ash of burned bones, it is used in much the same way as bone meal.
Other misuses: Making of ceramics, cleaning and polishing compounds.
Fish emulsion/ Fish Hydrolysate:
Fish hydrolysate: After the human grade “edible” portions of fish are removed, the remaining fish parts, (guts, bones, cartilage, scales, meal, etc.) are ground up. This mix often has high acid based preservatives added to it to keep the contents from putrefying. The fish parts used can also contain heavy metals and toxins that the fish absorbed during its life time.
Fish emulsion: Emulsion is fish hydrolysate that has had the oils removed and proteins denatured and simplified by heating. It is used for its nitrogen phosphorus and potassium content.
Other Misuses: Farmed animal feed, companion animal food, human consumption.
Next: Other byproduct fertilizers to avoid and their vegan organic alternatives.