Collecting leaves in summer to use as a wintertime source of greens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by vehve, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. vehve

    vehve The Token Finn

    Does anyone have any experience with collecting leaves in summer straight off trees and bushes in their green state, and drying them up to use as feed in wintertime? Anyone know how well nutrients are preserved? How did your chickens like it? I would prefer to be able to do this without any preserving additives, but that is an option as well. Handling the acids might be a bit tricky though.

    We collected about 10 gallons of birch leaves today, with small amounts of other leaves (raspberry, willow and rowan mainly). The thought was to store maybe 100-200 gallons for our flock as preparation for the winter.
     
  2. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Dried leaves have very little nutritional value at all.
     
  3. dealfinder500

    dealfinder500 Chirping

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    I would not see any value in doing so. I use dried leaves as chicken bedding, but the chickens do not eat them.

    However, if you dump the leaves out and into piles, they will attract all kinds of bugs and worms, and the chickens will have lots of fun digging through the leaves to find the goodies.

    In the fall I dump bag after bag after bag of leaves into the garden, and then the chickens are allowed to go at it. They get lots of bugs to eat and in the process they shred the leaves for me. However, this is of little use in the middle of winter when there is a foot or more of snow on the ground.

    But the leaves themselves provide no nutritional value to the chickens.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  4. vehve

    vehve The Token Finn

    Fallen leaves wouldn't have much nutrition in them, but collecting them straight from the tree before the tree has sucked back all the nutrients is what the idea is. I'm just wondering how much of that would be lost when they are dried. The principle would be sort of the same as feeding dried hay to horses through the winter.
     
  5. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    As long as the leaves are green they have Chlorophyll in them and thus have nutrition, when the leaves turn color, brittle/leathery the nutrition is gone.

    Theres a big difference between feeding dried leaves and feeding hay, one hay is a grass or a grass legume mix two not all the moister is out of the hay when bailed and fed, three chickens aren't grazers or browsers they don't process fibrous plants as well as Horse, Cattle, Goat or Sheep so any nutrition that is in the dried leaves is going to be very hard for a chicken to use it if it can be used at all.


     
  6. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Songster

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    What the OP is talking about is basically making leaf hay. Remember that hay is just dried grass leaves cut before the grass pulls back nutrients for the winter.


    Here's a thread on Permies about doing the same thing for goats:
    http://www.permies.com/t/27315/goats/Tree-Hay-links-thoughts
     
  7. vehve

    vehve The Token Finn

    I should specify that I in no way intend for this to be their main source of food - just something to serve on the side both for activation and possibly the nutrients in it.
     
  8. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Quote: Hay is more than just "dried grass leaves", hay consists of the leaves and the stems of either grass or a mix of grass and legumes.
    Hay is not totally dry and is cut 3 maybe 4 times a year with each cut being a little different in nutrition 2nd usually being the best.

    Also remember most grasses that are used in hays don't pull back nutrients in the winter (much like most lawn grass doesn't) and that the leaves of tree and shrubs dry up much more that the leaves of grasses and legumes.
     

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