Leaves in chicken run turning black, good or bad?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by gtaus, Oct 7, 2019.

  1. gtaus

    gtaus Crowing

    Mar 29, 2019
    Northern Minnesota
    My Coop
    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.

    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....

    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.
  2. imnukensc

    imnukensc Crowing

    May 22, 2017
    SC Midlands
    Nothing to worry about at all.
  3. Beer can

    Beer can Free Ranging

    Aug 12, 2014
    Upstate NY
    Leaves don't go bad, just turn to mulch, good.
  4. chrissynemetz

    chrissynemetz Crossing the Road

    Dec 19, 2013
    Olathe Colorado
    I don't think it's anything to worry about. :)
  5. trumpeting_angel

    trumpeting_angel Free Ranging

    Feb 6, 2019
    The wood chips in my run turn black after it rains. The section under the roof stays dry and
    Looks much nicer!

    Composting, I think. A damp layer of leaves under dry leaves always looks black.
  6. gtaus

    gtaus Crowing

    Mar 29, 2019
    Northern Minnesota
    My Coop
    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.
  7. CluckNDoodle

    CluckNDoodle Crowing

    Jan 12, 2019
    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.
  8. gtaus

    gtaus Crowing

    Mar 29, 2019
    Northern Minnesota
    My Coop
    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.
    Susan Dye, Sequel, ValerieJ and 4 others like this.
  9. Compost King

    Compost King Free Ranging

    Apr 19, 2018
    Salisbury, North Carolina
    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.
    ethbarry, Lilyput, Susan Dye and 10 others like this.
  10. gtaus

    gtaus Crowing

    Mar 29, 2019
    Northern Minnesota
    My Coop
    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.
    Susan Dye, HuffleClaw, Sequel and 8 others like this.

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