While chickens are quite creative when it comes to keeping themselves entertained – free-ranging is their forte! In the winter months, when the days are shorter and there aren’t as many exciting bugs, weeds and grasses to peck at, chickens can become bored. And bored chickens are definitely not happy chickens.
When chickens have little to keep them amused, they will often turn to pecking at themselves and one another – an unhealthy habit that can cause feather loss, injury and animosity among your chicken flock.
Bored chickens are also more likely to engage in egg eating, another bad habit that you can read about, and learn how to discourage here.
While treats may seem like the answer, over spoiling our girls with goodies isn’t great for their health, but luckily there are plenty of other ways you can keep your chickens brains busy and buzzing without their bellies over bulging.
Bales of Hay or Straw
Putting a bale or pile of straw or hay in the chicken coop or run will keep your girls entertained for hours – they are not a fan of piles! Watch as they scratch and peck at the straw searching for insects, seeds and other hidden goodies until there is a pile no more.
Make a Pinata
No, not filled with lollies – these pinatas are of the healthy kind and are super easy to make! First, choose your ‘pinata’ of choice, some of our favourites are cabbage, cauliflower or broccoli, and use twine to hang it in the coop. Dodging and pecking at the pinata will be a fun game for your flock, and provide them with a healthy boost of greens!
Get a Chicken Swing
For the chicken who has everything, the chicken swing is a welcome addition to your chicken coop, and will keep both you and your flock amused for hours on end. Swinging back and forth is a delight for your chickens and a great activity to help combat boredom. Backyard Chicken Coops sell a great quality chicken swing online here.
Add a Mirror to Your Chicken Run
Chickens take pride in their appearance, and will revel in having a mirror handy so they can check themselves out. You will find your girls pecking, squawking and prancing around in front of it time and time again. The mirror can be of any shape or size, just be sure that it is secured firmly in place so your girls don’t accidentally knock it over when they are fighting over their precious preening time. If you have a rooster, a mirror isn’t such a great idea – they do not take too kindly to having another cockerel in their flock.
Make a Chook Crumble
If your girls are deserving of a treat, a Chook Crumble is the answer. It will provide them with a mix of treats and nutritious ingredients alike, as well as giving them something to peck at rather than one another. Making your own Chook Crumble is really simple too, check out our Chook Crumble recipe here – feel free to add or omit ingredients as you please to appeal to your chickens taste buds!
We already know how much chickens adore their perches, using them for peace and quiet as well as play. Adding extra perches outside will allow your girls to get a different perspective of the great outdoors, helping to keep them amused in times of boredom. If you want to get really creative, use pieces of wood, branches or even ladders to make your girls their own jungle gym- boredom is sure to be a thing of the past!
Looking for more chooky ideas to keep your backyard chickens busy? Have a peck at 5 cool things to add to your chicken run here or get crafty with 7 egg-cellent DIY chicken run projects right here. Happy flappin’!
Download our Ultimate Chicken Behavior Handbook