Avian Influenza – Keep your hens hentertained!

Posted 14th December 2016 04:05pm by

It’s now been a whole week since the Avian Flu Prevention Zone was put in place by Defra. We know your girls probably aren’t enjoying being cooped up (see what we did there!). So we thought it might be helpful to suggest how best to keep your girls entertained while they’re on lockdown. These are just suggestions, so feel free to use your imagination!

  • Strands of string – simply attach some strands inside the coop so they hang down and your girls can peck at them.  Play around with different colours, see which your hens prefer!
  • Pop some Hentastic treats in their coop – For a few hours each day these can be hung up in the coop or on the ground in a covered run. Hens learn routine fast, so make the treats available for just a few hours each afternoon, giving your girls something to look forward to every day.
  • Hanging CD – you’ve probably all heard this one before, but it really does work! Hens love all things shiny so simply hang an old CD from a piece of string and see if your hens are vain!
  • Feathers & Beaky Peck It Treat Dispenser – a Feathers & Beaky dispenser can be hung in the coop so your hens can help themselves to treats whenever they fancy. We suggest you keep them to a few hours a day to keep interest high.
  • Fill an empty plastic bottle with some corn. Puncture holes in the bottle to allow some of the corn to drop out. Let your hens roll it around so they can peck at the spilt corn.
  • Hay/straw – if you have a big enough area pop a bale inside the coop. The hens will then have something to jump on and off. They may pluck the straw out too which will give them scratching material.  If you have a smaller area put some straw inside a hay net so your girls can peck to while away the hours. However, please be aware that some hens may eat more straw than is good for them, so keep an eye on this and remove if you are in any doubt.
  • Hang up some veg – make a hole in the middle of a swede or lettuce and hang it up using a piece of string. Your girls will love this one! Please remember though, it is illegal to give your girls any scraps which have passed through your kitchen. Therefore make sure you pop this straight in the coop as soon as you get home.

Remember not to put any food outside where it can be accessed by wild birds. Also rotate the treats so your hens are kept guessing as to what comes next.

What next?

We will keep you posted on Defra updates and you can visit Defra’s website for full details of the announcement, and also learn more about Avian Flu and good husbandry on our site.

Now is a really good time to register your flock with Defra; in the event of a disease outbreak, they will notify you immediately (often by text), enabling you to act fast to protect your hens. You can register here.

Finally remember: enjoy your hens, and be flock wise.

British Hen Welfare Trust