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Chicken boredom busters: keeping your birds hentertained

Just like us, hens get bored quickly if they don’t have stimulation. They love new ideas and activities, so here are just a few chicken boredom busters to keep them hentertained. Get in touch and let us know if you’ve tried anything we haven’t mentioned here! Email us at info@bhwt.co.uk or message us on Facebook!

Physical enrichment

Jungle Gym

Chickens LOVE to hop up on things and get a ‘bird’s eye’ view, especially when it’s muddy or snowy. But really any time, a chicken will generally seek high ground if possible.

You can create a great jungle gym in your hens’ run really easily by dotting about stumps, ramps, ladders or logs for exploring and perching on.

Create bridges by nailing a board horizontally across two stumps, or line some stumps up in a row where your hens can sit and watch the world go by.

Break up the living space with shrubs, bushes and branches, giving your hens yet more areas to explore. In the wild, jungle fowl like to hide and forage in deep brush. This is a great way to recycle your old cut Christmas tree after the holidays! The evergreen needles last for months outside in winter, and eventually turn into rich compost. Your chickens will love pecking at the bark and resting in the shade.

Hen Swing

Chicken swings are an adorable way to keep your chickens busy; the birds like to roost on it as it swings back and forth.

Chickens are a bit on the clumsy side though, so make sure the swing is wide and sturdy, secured properly, and kept low to the ground. It’s easy to make with rope and a board, or you can purchase a ready made Omlet Chicken Swing from our shop.

Rocking Horse Roosting Bar

A chicken rocking horse roosting bar toy sits on the ground, and the perching bar is just inches off the ground. As the hen moves on the perching bar, this toy rocks back and forth.

Chicken A-Frame

Something as simple as an a-frame can greatly enrich your chickens’ lives. These can be made as big or small as you’d like to fit virtually any space. They are portable and easy to move around as needed. Chickens enjoy using them to roost and just get up off the ground. Make your own with some wooden two by twos and some screws, or just repurpose an old wood ladder. They also make a good shelter.

Chicken Tunnel

Chickens have a strong instinct to explore underneath bushes and trees where bugs can be found. An old play tunnel satisfies this instinct to explore. You can make your own “chunnel” (chicken tunnel) with some covered chicken wire, or even grab an old children’s play tunnel.

Perching Tree

If your run is limited on space, a perching tree is an excellent way to give your birds more room. The vertical space satisfies their instinct to roost up high, and helps any bullied birds get up and away. A perching “tree” can be any design that you want, from simple 2x2s on a post, to an actual dead tree.

Straw Bales

If your chicken run is big enough, add a bale of fresh straw to the floor, still held together with baling twine. Your girls will enjoy jumping up on it and scratching around.

They may also peck through it looking for bugs. If you throw mixed corn/seeds through, they will root around between the strands of straw searching out the grain. Just be careful your hens aren’t eating any of the straw, and take the bale out if they start to do this.

Piles

Piles? What on earth are we talking about?! Well, just about any pile in fact! Chickens love piles and want to flatten any they see. So, to keep them entertained for a while, simply provide a pile of something to level in the corner of their run – wood chips, straw, leaves or whatever you happen to use as litter in the run. In fact, save yourself the work of spreading new litter. Dump it out in a big pile and let the chickens spread it for you! Your chickens will love rustling through the pile looking for bugs and scattering the leaves around.

Food treats

Treat dispensers

Hang dispensers around your run so your hens can help themselves whenever they fancy. There are lots of great nutritional treat products available for your hens. We also have a great recipe for Homemade Seed Block that they’ll enjoy pecking at!

For a homemade non-hanging dispenser simply pierce some holes in tennis ball or water bottle, fill it with treats and let your hens have fun rolling it around trying to get their reward.

Treat balls or blocks

Treat balls are high in energy and designed to keep your chickens happy and entertained. These Feldy High Energy Pecker Balls are a great option.

The Feldy Grazer Ball also helps aid natural foraging and enrichment for your chickens. Grass has excellent health benefits, being high in Vitamin A, B6 and C plus iron. It is known to help produce healthy rich yolks as well as being great for gut health.

Hanging veg

Cabbages, sweet potatoes or other vegetables can be hung up with a piece of string through the middle which your hens will enjoy. Just make sure you take it straight from shop to coop, avoiding your kitchen as it is illegal to feed scraps or any food to your hens from a non-vegan kitchen.  For more information please see our page on feeding hens.

You can make your own hanging fruit kebab by threading chunks of melon, apple and anything else you like onto a string and hanging up for your hens.

hens enjoying hung up vegetables to reduce boredom

Auditory and visual enrichment

Auditory

Play music for them on a radio if you are able to place one near their run safely. Hens have known to like a little Classical FM once in a while!

Try also hanging up bells – they’ll enjoy the sound when they peck them. Similarly, a toy xylophone will keep them entertained for ages.

Visual

Hang up a CD – hens love shiny things much like budgies like mirrors. By hanging up some CDs around the run or garden, your hens can have lots of fun.

Add mirrors to their run – chickens are fascinated with pretty much anything that moves, including their own reflections.  If you hang a mirror near the ground in your chicken run, your birds will enjoy watching and pecking at their reflections in the mirror. You can find ones that are safe for chickens & a great way to visually stimulate.

Chicken boredom busters

These tips can be used for the coop, your garden and even indoors. If you’re still struggling and would like some more advice on chicken boredom busters, please feel free to call our Hen Helpline on 01884 860084.

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