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Leaves in chicken run for deep litter system

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by grow2garden, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. grow2garden

    grow2garden New Egg

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    I am using the deep litter system in my 8x4ish covered chicken run. It has greatly reduced the need to clean out the run, reduced the odor, reduced flies, good to keep my neighbors happy, and gives the girls something to scratch around all day. During grass cutting season I used dried grass clippings, but now I am using fall leaves. Currently I have maple leaves but now those are gone. I don't want to use live oak leaves because they take forever and a day to decompose and don't want to get acorns either.

    So, can I use wild cherry, "popcorn tree", Bradford pear, pecan leaves? Also, once composted, will any of these leaves be an growth inhibitor to my garden plants?
     
  2. chfite

    chfite Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You may find that the chickens shred the oak leaves in no time so that the decomposition is not a problem. I would use any leaves that I could find. Once decomposed or composted those leaves should not cause any problems for your garden. Black Walnut is one to avoid because it inhibits the growth of nearby plants.

    Chris
     
  3. 3KillerBs

    3KillerBs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm going to be trying live oak leaves for my next re-bedding because I'm only getting 2-3 weeks out of pine straw in the run.

    IMO the fact that chickens can break down the hard-to-compost material is feature, not a bug. Things that would otherwise have been piled up for years are going to be useable compost this spring.

    I top off the bedding in the run every 2-3 weeks and am planning on cleaning it out in February so I can let it mellow for a while before spreading it on the garden in the spring.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2013
  4. Mahlzeit

    Mahlzeit Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How do you dry your grass clippings?
     
  5. DallasCriftins

    DallasCriftins Chillin' With My Peeps

    Lob any leaves in I think you will find even Walnut is ok as I am pretty sure it is the Walnut trees roots the exude a growth inhibitor not the leaves.
    I also shred everything I can (except things with thorns) and that all goes in the run

    so my birds have a real mix of stuff to rake through.

    In fact next week (holiday week) I will be removing all the previous litter as most of it has rooted down and hence is getting a bit muddy and wet now and I will start the entire process off again with new leaves new shreddings etc.
     
  6. grow2garden

    grow2garden New Egg

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    Jan 23, 2013
    How do I dry my grass clippings? I copy my farmer uncle in how he "makes hay." Since I don't have farm equipment I rake up the grass into long thin rows and let the sun dry it out. I'll go out several hours later and turn it to let the bottom sides get dried by the sun. After a good hot sunny day it's dry. I'll bag it up and put it in a covered area (usually my back porch), top open, so it doesn't get moisture trapped inside. If the sun hits the black bag it will draw moisture and cause the "hay" to mold, therefore I have to put it straight into the compost pile. :( This only happened once. I put the other "hay" in a white bag, top open, out of the rain. This may seem like a lot of work but 1) it gets me outside, 2) exercise, 3) it gets me outside. I tried fresh grass but it didn't dry out fast enough and I didn't want it to start smelling. Hope this helps.
     
  7. Mahlzeit

    Mahlzeit Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's how I assumed you did it. That is quite a bit of work. I'd have a hard time keeping the grass in rows with the dogs tearing through them while running around the yard.
     
  8. grow2garden

    grow2garden New Egg

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    Jan 23, 2013
    It's not that bad, but I found if I didn't rake when the grass was fresh, I'd loose too much of it as it shrinks up and settles down into the grass blades. I only make about 3 or 4 rows as the amount of clippings allow. I do relate to the dogs though. :)
     

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