Leaves in chicken run turning black, good or bad?

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
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Northern Minnesota
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For the past couple of weeks I have been dumping leaves into my chicken run. When dry, they were all nice and full of colors. After about 4 days of rain, the leaves in the run have turned almost black. There is about 6 to 8 inches of leaves in the run, and when I walk in there it feels like I am walking on a damp sponge. But it is not muddy. My chickens enjoyed the fresh, dry, leaves, but I don't see them nearly as active in the leaf litter now that it is wet. Anyway, I am just wondering if the leaves turning black is just part of the process of breaking down, or is this going to be a problem I should correct? The wet leaves out in the yard are still colorful, not black at all.

Here is a picture of my chicken run with the leaves and you can see how the rest of the yard looks like.

20191007_125641.jpg

The sun came out today, so I mowed up a lot of new leaves and dumped then on top of the old leaves in the run....

20191007_164516.jpg

The chickens are much more active in the dry leaves. They like scratching down the high pile of leaves and soon it will be flat.

Anyway, let me know if the leaves turning black is something to work on, or is this to be expected and just part of the process. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
 

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
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Thanks for all the responses. I guess things are going OK. I was not expecting to see the leaves turn black until next spring, but maybe the chicken scratching and pooping in the leaves is speeding up the decomposition process, along with all the rain we just got the past 4 days. I'm looking forward to some good compost from that chicken run next spring.
 

CluckNDoodle

Hatchaholic
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Jan 12, 2019
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I think the difference you're seeing in the run vs the rest of the yard is just because the chickens are making the leaves into beautiful compost for you! When they scratch they're opening the leaves up to absorb more moisture and when they poo it's adding nitrogen to all of that carbon and it's breaking down faster. That's gardening gold! Mulching, turning, and adding nitrogen (manure) is everything that is recommended to make compost faster.
 

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
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Northern Minnesota
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I think the difference you're seeing in the run vs the rest of the yard is just because the chickens are making the leaves into beautiful compost for you! When they scratch they're opening the leaves up to absorb more moisture and when they poo it's adding nitrogen to all of that carbon and it's breaking down faster. That's gardening gold! Mulching, turning, and adding nitrogen (manure) is everything that is recommended to make compost faster.
Thanks for the explanation. I have been dumping dry leaves in my garden every fall for years, but in the spring the leaves are still full of color and not broken down very much. I could not believe that only after a few weeks in the chicken run that these leaves were turning black. But I guess that's exactly what I wanted.
 

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
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Northern Minnesota
My Coop
on their own leaves take 2 years to break down, in a chicken run they take a few weeks. Its good for the chickens and good for the leaves.
That's just amazing. Again, I was surprised to see those leaves turn black in just a few weeks in the chicken run. I might be getting more value from the compost than the eggs which we really enjoy.
 

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