Feather meal is a by-product of the turkey and poultry processing industry. The feathers are cooked and sterilized under intense heat using steam pressure cookers before being dried and ground into a powder.
The total nitrogen from hydrolyzed ground feathers is around 7-12 percent. It is a slow release fertilizer providing plants with nitrogen over an extended period of time, making it perfect for plants like corn, leaf vegetables and others requiring a consistent supply of nitrogen.
Once the feather meal begins to release its nitrogen, which is normally within 4-7 days of application, it will release at a steady rate for approximately 3 months where more than 75 percent of all the nitrogen will be utilized by the plant. The remaining nitrogen will release for up to another 3 months.
However as always, there are several factors that will determine the rate of nutrient release, apart from the soil pH level, factors that effect this in the garden are, moisture levels, soil temperature and the presents of enough organic matter to support sufficient soil bacteria and micro-organisms to break it down into plant usable nutrients.
Feather meal is not water soluble and therefore doesn’t make a good liquid fertilizer. To make the nitrogen available to plants feather meal needs to be blended into the soil to start the decomposition process.
It is a good source of nitrogen in compost heap supplying the heap with nitrogen over a long period.
Single nutrient fertilizers like feather meal are best used in a fertilizer mix to supply plants with the full range of N.P.K. needed. However if soil test advise nitrogen is the only macro nutrient needed then feather meal fertilizer is a good choice.