A complete guide to keep chickens entertained. Keeping chickens entertained is essential for their well-being and to prevent boredom-related behavioral problems. Whether you have backyard chickens or a larger flock, providing various forms of entertainment and enrichment can greatly enhance their quality of life. In this post, we will explore different strategies and activities to keep chickens entertained, from switching chicken feed to offering treats and creating stimulating environments.
Switch Chicken Feed and Create a “Puzzle Feeder”
Switch Chicken Feed
One way to keep chickens entertained is to switch their feed. Instead of using bulkier layer pellets, consider using crumble feed. Crumble feed is smaller in size and can create more mental stimulation for chickens.
Create a “Puzzle Feeder”
Another fun way to keep chickens entertained is by creating a “puzzle feeder” out of a water bottle. Cut holes in the sides of the bottle and fill it with crumble feed. As the chickens peck at the bottle, the feed will slowly come out, providing a challenge and entertainment.
Provide Various Roosting Spots
Adding multiple perches to the chicken run can give chickens elevated roosting spots. Wide tree branches, tree stumps, chairs, or wooden ladders can be used as perches. This allows chickens to have different vantage points and encourages natural roosting behavior.
Outside Roosts, Ladders, or Perches
Another option is to provide elevated structures like boards, branches, or ladders for chickens to hop on and get a bird’s eye view. This not only keeps them entertained but also adds diversity to their environment.
Create Stimulating Environments
Create a Dust Bath
Chickens naturally engage in dust bathing to keep themselves clean and free from parasites. Building a dust bath area can provide them with an outlet for this behavior. Fill a shallow bucket or old pots with sand, peat moss, and potting soil to create a suitable dust bathing spot.
Extend the Run
If possible, provide a larger run area for chickens to explore and move around. Increasing the space allows them to have more room for exercise and encourages natural behaviors like scratching and foraging.
Add Toys and Novel Items
Chickens can enjoy toys and novel items in their environment. Consider providing items like xylophones and mirrors designed for babies or birds. Ensure any mirrors used are unbreakable and securely fixed. You can also introduce novel objects like rakes, stepladders, branches, or fallen trees to pique the chickens’ curiosity.
Set up a Sheltered Dust Bath Area
Create a designated area, even in a large tub or kiddie pool, for chickens to engage in dust bathing. This helps them keep parasites at bay while providing them with a stimulating and comfortable environment.
Offer Treats and Enrichment Activities
Providing food challenges and treats can help curb boredom and undesirable behavior. Hang items like cabbage or the head of a sunflower from a string, or use store-bought treat balls filled with mealworms. This engages chickens in a fun and rewarding activity.
Seed and Suet Treats
For extra nutrition and energy on cold days, offer homemade or commercial seed blocks or suet cakes. These treats provide a tasty and stimulating diversion for chickens.
Make a Lettuce Piñata
Drill a hole through lettuce or cabbage heads and suspend them from the run roof using a rope. Alternatively, use a tiered fruit/veggie basket filled with leafy greens as an engaging treat. This not only provides entertainment but also adds nutritional value to their diet.
Introduce Treat Toys and Interactive Play
Treat toys like Treat Balls and live crickets can provide interactive play for chickens. These toys stimulate their natural instincts and keep them mentally and physically engaged.
Supervision and Bonding
Allow Supervised Ranging
If permitted by local regulations, allow chickens to explore beyond their runs under supervision. This gives them the opportunity to scratch and forage for grubs in fresh patches of grass, providing both physical and mental stimulation.
Spend Time With Your Flock
Spending time with your chickens provides social interaction and enrichment. Chickens respond well to attention, and it allows them to experience novel sights, sounds, and smells. Regular interaction strengthens the bond between you and your flock.
Q: Can chickens be entertained by mirrors?
A: Yes, chickens can find mirrors entertaining. However, it’s crucial to use unbreakable mirrors designed for babies or birds and ensure they are securely fixed to prevent accidents.
Q: How often should I switch their feed or offer treats?
A: It’s important to maintain a balanced diet for chickens. Switching their feed should be done gradually and only when necessary. Treats should be offered in moderation to avoid health issues.
Keeping chickens entertained is a vital aspect of their care and well-being. By implementing various strategies such as switching feed, providing stimulating environments, offering treats and enrichment activities, and spending time with your flock, you can ensure that your chickens lead happy and fulfilled lives. Remember to prioritize their safety and health while engaging them in entertaining and enriching experiences.