Using Leaves

JoePa

Songster
9 Years
Apr 18, 2011
285
78
176
Lehigh County Pa.
Every year I get tons of leaves in my yard - mostly oak - what I have been doing is using a blower to make large piles and then keep running over them with the lawn tractor to break them down into small pieces - by doing this I reduce the volume of the pile by 90 % - I would then put them on my compost pile - what I was thinking is using the shredded leaves for bedding in the chicken coop this year - anyone know any reason why this wouldn't be a good idea? - I would keep the leaves dry under a tarp until I put them in the coop - would also spread them all over the run - thanks
 

svh

Crowing
Dec 24, 2019
412
2,091
266
Mid Missouri
I use piles of oak/hickory leaves and forest debris, mixed with pine shavings, from the surrounding woods, in the coop, and run all the time. The chickens free range in this same forest material all day long, without a problem.
 

Sally PB

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
2,676
8,052
443
Belding, MI
I'm considering using shredded leaves in the run this fall too, and I have mostly oak. I'll be following this to see what people have to say.
 

Red-Stars-in-RI

Crowing
6 Years
Mar 24, 2014
1,028
2,178
286
Rhode Island
I have used leaves (mostly oak, a few maple) for years and they work great as a deep litter/slow compost “nitrogen diaper” absorbing manure and left over food scraps to keep the run tidy.

Haven’t tried in the coop...if you do I’d recommend your shredded process vs whole (to avoid matting) and make sure they’re good and dry.

100% leaves may not work great - they’re not as absorbent as wood shavings. I’d start with 50/50 shavings/leaves and see how it goes...you can always adjust the ratios with the next coop cleanup.

A 50/50 leaf/shaving blend with chicken poop and the odd feather in it sounds like an AMAZING compost base, too!

And oak leaves won’t kill your chickens...not that I’ve ever seen one try to eat a dried leaf. Mine do enjoy fresh green maple leaves, though.
 

Red-Stars-in-RI

Crowing
6 Years
Mar 24, 2014
1,028
2,178
286
Rhode Island
A few chickens, food waste, and oak leaf picks, since they’re right here on my phone!
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Not sure why they’re all on their side (for optimal viewing, lie down) - the second 2 are of the same spot a month apart. All that fruit and veggie material was eaten or scratched in and composted in that time.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
Jul 3, 2016
13,929
26,464
982
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
No need to shred them if they're going into a chicken run (the chickens will break it down for you).

I would not use 100% leaf litter in a run though, it gets soggy and matted and clogs up run drainage if used as the sole component. Leaf litter + a base of chunky aged wood chips is a very good combo, the chips provide drainage and aeration and the leaves break down nicely with the poop.

I tried leaves as bedding in a coop and it's a complete no for me, just not absorbent enough. It really needs to compost along with the poop to be worth using.

I save dried leaves for year round use by bagging only completely dry leaves and sticking them in my unused greenhouse. They easily stay bone dry and crunchy for a year without any issue that way. Tarping over piles may or may not work - guess it depends on how much moisture seeps up from the ground in the area.
 

JoePa

Songster
9 Years
Apr 18, 2011
285
78
176
Lehigh County Pa.
I was thinking of laying a tarp on the ground then put down the shredded leaves then cover with a tarp - but from the comments it sounds like leaves alone might not be the best thing - I'm trying to use stuff I have around the property as bedding - I have been using grass hay doing times when I cut the grass - that seems to work just fine
 

Red-Stars-in-RI

Crowing
6 Years
Mar 24, 2014
1,028
2,178
286
Rhode Island
I think using what you have is a great approach. If it doesn’t work, you can always adjust.

I’ve used leaves, straw, old hat, etc. I haven’t been able to find free/cheap wood chips in my area, but plan to keep searching.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
Jul 3, 2016
13,929
26,464
982
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
I'm trying to use stuff I have around the property as bedding - I have been using grass hay doing times when I cut the grass - that seems to work just fine

To me, using what you have is always a great idea - cost effective (it's completely free for me, plus even saves additional money as I don't have to pay to have excess green waste hauled away) and environmentally friendly. My coop litter is wood chips from branches in my yard, my run litter is those same wood chips, plus small branches, dried leaves, dried grass, garden trimmings, weeds... basically whatever is scrounged from the yard that isn't toxic. The composition of the run litter changes throughout the year depending on what's available.
 

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