Keep Your Chickens Entertained
When the activities of a chicken are limited, the birds get bored. Raise their spirits with fun diversions.
The life of a happy chicken follows a trail of pecking, scratching, and dusting. It’s what chickens are wont to do. When that trail hits a jam, like when a barren coop becomes the norm or when winter conditions cut access to bugs, weeds, grass, and other interesting things, chickens get bored.
And bored chickens are unhappy chickens. They will turn to pecking one another, which can result in injury, antagonism, and feather loss. They will also peck at eggs, even cannibalize them.
To stave off boredom in your chickens, get creative.
A Perch Presents a New Perspective
Chickens are birds. They fly. They may not be prolific pilots but most breeds can fly, even if just short distances or heights. Adding outside perches to a run will get the restless hens off the ground for a new view of their surroundings, while also providing them a new place to rest or play. Expand their options even further with a ladder, which is a boredom breaker at a variety of levels.
A Pile Is a Bonafide Chicken Project
A pile of straw, hay, or leaves holds mystery for a chicken. When a chicken sees the pile, it sees a project of buried tidbits likes bugs and seeds. Remember, the driving force for a chicken is food. So even if the pile does not hold these treats, the chicken does not know that. The entire flock will focus on the pile, scratching for discoveries. In the process, the pile will disperse. A flattened pile may be less intriguing than a mounded pile, but a chicken will continue to see mystery in the layer of straw or leaves, revisiting it time and again. Just watch. And if you have a lump of sod or an old stump, chickens will sleuth that, too.
Call it a Tetherball or Pinata, it’s Captivating
Easy to do and nutritious for chickens, treats hung by twine in a run or coop can keep chickens busy. A head or wedge of broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, cantaloupe, or even a cucumber ꟷ whatever, make it healthy! ꟷ will start the fun. Hang the veggies at head level of a chicken or add to the challenge by positioning it slightly above.
Get ’em Swinging
Think of a bird in a tree. When the wind picks up, the branch it’s clutching moves. Whether evolution plays a part in it or they do it for the pure fun of it, chickens enjoy swings whether it’s a log, pole, or bench. You can go back and forth on how you want to help entertain your chickens, but this idea is a winner.
Mirror, Mirror, In the Coop
Well, cockadoodle doo, look at me! In reflecting on the evidence, it appears that chickens are vain birds. They seem to like spending time in front of a mirror, squawking, preening, pecking. So, give them one. Because the last thing you want in a coop or run ꟷ aside from a predator looking for a meal ꟷ is shattered glass, anchor the mirror securely where it won’t get knocked over.
Working for Food Brightens the Mood
A Flock Block is essentially a large brick of treats that chickens peck apart. A Flock Block is laden with healthy goodies, such as grains, oyster shell, grit, seeds, and is much more rewarding for chickens to pick at than each other. Trust us, it keeps them busy and entertained.
There are recipes to make these at home, which gives you control over what you’re giving your birds, but Murdoch’s sells a premium Flock Block loaded with the nutrients and enrichment. Flock Blocks are nutritional supplements, not a primary chicken food.
Shake It Up
Easy to make and a source of busyness, a treat shaker is a sturdy repurposed plastic container, like a soda bottle, with holes in it large enough for goodies to fall through. After drilling holes in the container, fill it with a favorite scratch mix, mealworms, berries, seeds, or pellets. Put the top back on and put it in with the chickens. Done!