Don’t Bag Those Leaves, Put Them to Use!

When Gene said to me last week, ‘Maybe I’d better rake those leaves out of the chicken run too?’

I replied, ‘No way, leave them, please.’

HORZ coop under tree barn in background

The chicken coop (brown with white corrugated roof) sits between the raspberry bed and the pole barn under the White Oak shade tree.

We started out with weedy moved grass in the pen this spring before we adopted our small chicken family. There is nothing wrong with grass in the pen of course, but I knew at some point that after a few months of scratching that grass would soon become mud. I also knew that because our pen is located under a giant oak tree for shade to try to keep the pen emptied of leaves would be fruitless. So then we decided to use leaves for the chicken pen “flooring.”

Barn-shack-deepsky-trees USE

This view gives you an idea of our large White Oak trees and you can imagine the amount of leaves we have each fall!

With 47 large White Oak trees on our property, using our plentiful leaves is so much more economical than buying shavings and so much less work than keeping the leaves raked up and out of the pen. The chickens also love to jump in and scratch around in these leaves too.

Gene on tractor behind pool shack

We pick up the leaves from our property using our lawn tractor and leaf pick up attachment.

Not only does the leaves cover up the chicken poop mess and it keeps their little feet nice and clean too.

Clover-leaves in run

Momma Clover and the chicklets scratching in the oak leaves.

With the chickens continual scratching eventually those leaves and that poo will turn into composed soil and when that day arrives we will scoop that compost out and use it on the garden to grow some great vegetables. The rest of our many leaves go on the woods paths, under the White Pines as mulch, in the vegetable garden pathway and they are also used to create a weed free, border around our property.

Every leaf here is put to good use!

Small House Homesteader, Donna





17 thoughts on “Don’t Bag Those Leaves, Put Them to Use!

    • I hear you! I had to wait a l-o-n-g…time to0 but finally reached my goal of land and chickens. (Don’t know if it inspires or discourages you to know I had to wait until I was age 50 to get my land but I finally did it.) Some people help others with their chickens to learn in the meantime. Do you have a CSA near you that could use help? This is what my friend Greta did when she lived in the Chicago suburbs. Learned and waited. It will happen, have faith!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I mentioned it in my other comment, but we got our act together this past year and being as young as we are, we don’t have any real ties to a place, we were able to get started on USDA financing and we’re looking to buy a house and land next summer! After that, it’s all up in the air, but at least we’ll have a place to start!


    • Thanks so much for re-blogging my post. We have to get the word out there that leaves are worth composting and using!! Donna at the Small House Homestead.
      My chickens are babies right now, only about 4/5 weeks old but soon they will be making me soil too!! YEA!! Next spring I’ll be getting some more Rhode Island Red babies to grow for eggs. Can’t wait! More compost!

      Liked by 1 person

      • We’re hoping to be in a house by next summer and I’ve got to collect all this knowledge before we’re there! Thanks for the ideas and no problem on the reblog! I like to help others share their work too!


  1. Hi Donna,

    I call those bags of leaves on the curb STB’s, or stupid people bags. They rake them up, throw them away and then run off to Home Depot to buy bags of compost! Shear madness I say.

    They are perfect for supplying the carbon material you need for compost bins. Also, every year, the trees root reach deeper into the earth and pull out new and wonderful nutrients that they couldn’t reach the year before. So every year, your fallen leaves are loaded with pure gardening gold!

    I’m so glad you are not one of those that waste that treasure.



  2. We don’t have chickens, but we love using leaves in the garden. Sometimes we bag them to use as insulation around outside water pipes, sometimes we throw them in the compost, but mostly we trench compost them into the soil after we mow over them. I’d sure like to get some of that good chicken manure to compost with the leaves, but we haven’t decided to do chickens again…yet.


  3. Hello! I have been using white oak leaves layered quite deep (I have two connected runs, 13′ x17′ and 10′ x 13′). I have been pulling them out as they become wet. And 10 bags of wet leaves+/- is a lot to remove..:-)..are you leaving yours in the coop?

    My runs while under hardware cloth or deer fencing…are open to the weather, so keeping them dry is not an option at the moment. I keep pulling my leaves out rather than just adding to them as I have heard that wet litter contributes to disease…What has your experience been if you are using yours in? And are your runs open? Thank you so much for your time.

    Please feel free to contact me on fb…



    • I have both open and closed run. I use leaves in both. I find that my leaves in the coop get picked up when I clean out the poop. These get composted. The leaves in the runs get broken down eventually into soil. I replace them from time to time as needed and mix in bark chips as well. I have not had issues with diseases so it does not seem to be a problem for us. Our chickens are inside the closed run area during the snowiest part of the winter but outside the rest of the year. I know that many people just clean out their runs once or twice a year but I keep the poop scooped up daily. That way I don’t walk in it and there is less disease too.


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