Using fall leaves in the chicken run.

When I put the baby Guinea fowl into the chicken run again this morning I noticed they looked kinda, well....bored! These little keets go in the covered run every day by themselves till they're big enough to play outside without the big kids picking on them. I suppose after awhile that would get boring, so I decided to find them something to do.

Chicken in leaves, coop run

These little keets had so much fun, I decided to rake a few piles of leaves into both the silkie runs and the big guinea run

It's important to try to alleviate boredom in chickens and guineas, especially when confined.

Boredom can cause: Feather pulling to themselves and others
Pecking each other
Pecking order problems
Injury to the bullied chickens
Egg eating

Obviously none of these are desirable in a confined flock. The obvious solution would be to alleviate their boredom. You could go the fancy route and buy swings and toys but I prefer a more natural (and free) approach and so that's how I ended up with the leaf solution to flock boredom.

Using dry leaves in the chickens run

I gave the guinea keets some leaves to play in and boy did they have a good time! It was simple really, I just raked up some dry leaves and threw them in the run.

leaves, chicken coop

Lots of little bugs hide in leaves (like momma said....never jump in a leaf pile, you'll get ticks!) and chickens and guineas love bugs. There's also lots of little bits of grasses, weeds and weed seeds that get raked up with them. 

It's better if the leaves are dry, but even the wet ones will break down eventually. Do not throw wet matted leaves into the run though. These will likely just lay there and rot and the chickens will ignore them instead of playing in them. 

Loose, fluffy leaves with a bit of rain on them are ok though.

The leaves are organic and they break down to almost nothing within a few weeks. They'll mix right into the dirt of the run, plus they'll sort of dilute the amount of chicken poo in the small space of the run so it won't need scooped out nearly as soon!

You can use dried leaves in any coop run, whether it's a covered run or not. They stay dry better and break down faster in a covered run, but my silkies still love leaves even in their open top run!

Dried leaves in chicken run without roof favorite part...they're FREE! Nothing like free litter for the run and you can even use leaves inside the coop as bedding. I don't put them in the nest boxes, but I do cover the coop floor with them and the chickens and guineas seem to like them.

With all the $$ we spend on sand, shavings, straw and hay I really like these Autumn months of free run filler! It put's a nice dent in my yearly chicken expenses plus using dried leaves means I don't have to run to the feed store for shavings or straw!

Try it, your chickens will love it too! 

Not sure which chicken bedding to use the rest of the year? Check out: Which chicken bedding should you use? for pro's and cons of all the most common chicken coop litter options.


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  1. I do this every fall too! It keeps the ground dry in the coop, makes excellent material for composting in the spring and keeps the chickens entertained!

  2. We turn our chickens into our garden plot each fall, they love having a 'new' space to roam and being able to explore all the interesting areas we wouldn't let then in during summer. Then when leaves fall we throw them into that space, too. It's a month -ish since they started going in there every day so it's new and exciting. They break down the leaves and spread around (scratching) the leaves feed my soil, the chickens poo everywhere (and it ages) and THAT feeds the soil, plus the chickens eat every weed seed and bug and grub they can find!! Shortly into the new year we stop putting them in, allowing poo to age/vegetation to compost, until the Next Fall

    1. That's awesome! I let my chickens into the garden in fall too and they love it! Sounds like you have a happy flock!