You could bag it up and set it out for the garbage collector, you could dig a hole and bury it in the yard, or you can put it to good use. It's very high in nitrogen, phosperous and potassium, just the kind of thing your garden plants love. In fact, it is so "hot" that you can't just rake it out of the coop and start spreading it around the roses. No, to get the full benefit of the chicken manure, feathers and old litter, you have to turn it into compost, the gardener's "Black Gold".
Compost is the well rotted remains of plants, kitchen scraps, grass clippings, straw, and ideally, manure. It is the best possible way to return nutrients to the soil. The benefits of compost are legion and include; providing a home for millions of bacteria, improving the texture of the soil, improving drainage, and of course, from a plant's point of view, it's nutritious. Compost allows you to make use of all kinds of waste material, chicken manure and feathers included. All it takes to make good compost is a little planning, and a little time.
To begin with, you'll want to have a compost bin. While it's possible to create compost by just raking all the waste material into a pile, it's the least efficient method. It takes longer for the ingredients to break down, and every rain washes away some of those wonderful nutrients. A compost bin can be purchased at the local garden center, or you can construct one yourself. The easiest homemade compost bin is simply four stakes driven into the ground in a square, and surrounded tightly with 1" poultry netting. (Chicken wire) Another easy way to make a compost bin is to obtain one of those large plastic barrels. Cut off the top and bottom, saving one end to use as a lid. Punch or drill 1" holes along the sides about every foot or so in all directions. My neighbor has one made from such a barrel, with a long peice of rebar running all the way through the top and bottom.The ends of the rebar rest on a weight lifter's stand they bought at a yard sale, and her husband cut a door on the side and bolted it on with hinges. She simply opens the door in the side to add the organic material,latches it shut, and gives it a little spin. I've seen one made from old wooden pallets wired together in a square. The owner had added a few 1' X 2"s in between the slats, and kept the top covered with a peice of plywood cut to fit. the point is to keep all the decomposing ialltogether in a relatively neat pile.
Once you have your bin ready, you'll need to add the raw ingredients, but what? Well, you'll want to use that mountain of manure and litter of course, but really any vegetable matter can be composted.
It's easier to mention what you should not try composting:
Diseased plants, or parts of plants that are infested with pests.
Roots of weeds like bindweed and couch grass. They'll actually thrive in the compost.
Cooked kitchen scraps. These will attract vermin like rats.
You'll also want to go easy on the grass clippings. Although grass clippings will compost, if you add too thick of a layer at a time, they will pack down, sealing out air and just turn to slime.
But back to that pile you just raked out of the hen house. Layer the bottom of your bin with some straw, add the soiled litter and chicken manure. Add a layer of grass clippings, or leaves, and water it down. Keeping in mind that wet rotting vegetation smells awful, you'll want to get it damp, not dripping. In other words, not especially sopping wet, more like a sponge that has been well wrung out. Leaves raked up in the yard take a long time to break down, but they are worth it. If you are using leaves as all or part of the litter in your coop, you'll find the birds have already done most of the work for you by trampling, crushing and breaking them into tiny peices. The compost you get with leaves is excellent for adding to potting soil. Add another layer of manure and litter, and water again. If most of the litter from the coop is already broken down, you'll want to buy a bale of straw to use in your layering. Use straw, not hay, as hay will mold, and may in turn contain fungus which can be harmful to some of your garden plants. Also, because it's so dried out, straw needs to be soaked in a bucket of water for an hour or so before you add it to the heap. Continue layering your soiled litter, grass clippings, leaves, kitchen scraps and straw, and if you like, sprinkle with lime every now and then. Once you have your bin full, water it again lightly, and cover.
You'll want to check your compost often, since things rot quickly, and the bin that looked heaping full a week ago will have settled and you'll find there's more room. To hasen decomposition, you might want to "stir things up" in your compost bin from time to time. Unless you have one of those barrelcomposters like my neighbor, that involves using a shovel, hoe, or one of those special tools sold at garden centers to reach down to the very bottom of the bin, and, as much as possible, bringing the bottom layer up to the top. (Or at least to the middle.) Depending on the size of your bin and what ingredients you've added, it can be ready in as little as two months, or as long as eight.
Your garden will thank you.