12 days of Christmas produce large quantities of fertilizer

A true love gives the gift of – a partridge in a pear tree, but observers often overlook the fertilizer value of the manure produced by the continually accumulating animal gifts during the 12 days of Christmas.

LOGAN — So Christmas has passed and the 12 days of Christmas have come and gone, but on the first day of Christmas, a true love gave the gift of – a partridge in a pear tree, and then continued with the additional 11 days of gifts.

Great. Thanks. But who’s going to clean up after them all?

According to Dean Miner, Utah State University Extension professor, there’s no sense in letting it go to waste.

“When considering the value of the gifts received during the 12 days of Christmas, observers often overlook the fertilizer value of the manure produced by the continually accumulating animal gifts,” he said.

They are the gifts that keep on giving.

And how much fertilizer do partridges, turtledoves, French hens, calling birds, geese, swans and cows provide over a 12-day period?

Total manure production is 16,173.7 pounds. That’s more than eight tons. Of this amount, 20.5 percent comes from the fowl and the remaining 79.5 percent from the dairy cows, Miner said.

This is enough nitrogen to meet the average needs of 24 residential yards, assuming that each residence receives four pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet with 4,500 square feet of lawns and home gardens.

Mathematicians arrive at these numbers by adding up the animals that are accumulated at the end of 12 days after that true love is finished giving.

For example, on the second day of Christmas the true love gives to the gift of two turtledoves and yet another partridge in a pear tree. That means the receiver has accumulated two partridges and two turtledoves in just two days. Keep going down the list and a person can see how quickly it all adds up.

Miner calls this “accumulated critter days.” Here is how it adds up.

Accumulated critter days: 78 partridges, 132 turtledoves, 165 French hens, 180 calling birds, 168 geese-a-laying, 147 swans-a-swimming and 120 cows (not counting the maids-a-milking).

As pointed out, the maids-a-milking do not count because they do not fall under the winged or four-legged variety of gifts. Miner said they are considered “non-producing gifts.” The same holds true for the drumming drummers, leaping lords and piping pipers.

If the mathematician multiplies the partridge’s 78 accumulated critter days by their average weight of four pounds, the total is 312 pounds of accumulated weight days.

When 312 is multiplied by .225, which is the fresh manure production factor, it is found that there are 70.2 pounds of fresh manure that those partridges have produced for the receiver over those 12 days of Christmas.

“Of course, the fresh manure production factor assumes that poultry eat five percent of body weight per day, of which 90 percent passes through as waste at 20 percent dry matter,” Miner said.

Turtledoves, assuming an average weight of one-half pound, produce 14.85 pounds of manure. French hens, averaging five pounds, produce 185.65 pounds of fertilizer.

Calling birds, at one pound average weight, produce up to 40.5 pounds of manure. The geese, with an average weight of 30 pounds, yield 1,134 pounds of manure.

The swans, at 60 pounds, produce up to 1,984.5 pounds of fresh manure. The cows, with an average weight of 1,350 pounds, bring in a whopping 13,284 pounds of pure sunshine.

Miner said typical poultry manure is 4.3 percent nitrogen, 1.6 percent phosphorus and 1.6 percent potassium. Fresh cow manure averages 2.2 percent nitrogen, 1.3 percent phosphorus and 0.8 percent potassium.

This provides a total fertilizer yield of 439.63 pounds of nitrogen; 227.5 pounds of phosphorus and 161.1 pounds of potassium.

Not bad for just 12 days of Christmas. But what about after that?

“Don’t ask,” Miner said.