How To Prevent Boredom With Your Chickens

June 15, 2018

How To Prevent Boredom With Your Chickens

* Guest Blogger of Treats for Chickens *

- Kevin Bullis of Happy Hill Farm

Boredom. Lets face it, we all suffer from boredom occasionally. We end up twiddling our thumbs, texting friends for possible plans, staring at the ceiling tiles for hours, and everything in between. But, have you ever thought about your backyard chickens? Flock boredom can actually cause problems if not taken care of appropriately. The most common “symptoms” of a bored chicken can include feather plucking (both their own and others) and increased bullying of others (not to be confused by normal pecking order activities). There are several ways to avoid this that can be fun for both you and your feathered friends!

1. Toys!

Chick-N-Veggie Ball

(photo courtesy of www.treatsforchickens.com)

Believe it or not chickens LOVE toys. From simply tying a ball on a string, to attaching a chicken proof plastic mirror in the coop for your chickens to look at themselves! Chickens love new and shiny things, so anything that can catch their interest to investigate will keep them occupied for hours! Try tying old scratched CDs on strings and hanging them around your coop or the outside run. Your hens will thank you for the fun new shiny items and this approach can help deter hawks as well! Feeling even more adventurous? Try building a chicken swing with an appropriate sized branch attached by string or chain. It will allow your hens to get off the ground if they want and work their balancing muscles. Lastly, giving your chickens food based toys works just as well and doubles as a treat, using a Chick-N-Veggie Ball or a boredom busting treat ball (Courtesy of the awesome TreatsForChickens.com) is an easy and effective way to treat your flock and keep them entertained! With the ability to hold a whole head of lettuce it’s appropriate to keep the curiosity and attention of the entire flock.

 

2. Create a dust bath station

If there is one necessity to have when raising backyard chickens it's having a “dusting station” or allowing your chickens access to a dirt patch in which they will roll, fluff, and chill to their hearts content. Dust baths are one of those things you want to make sure is always available, this is how chickens ward off external parasites and lice, plus it’s gives them good stimulus! A few resourceful ideas are to take an old tire or bucket large enough for your chickens to fit in and add some dirt/sand to it and walk away. The chickens will do the rest. This is especially helpful in the winter months when the ground is covered in the Northern areas with snow. Simply put a small plastic kiddy pool in their coop if you have the space and add some dirt/sand and this will allow your flock to bath and have something to do during their seasonal depression period.

 

3. Build a compost pile

(photo courtesy of Kevin & Angela Bullis of Happy Hill Farm)

If you own chickens it’s only a matter of time before you end up creating your own compost pile. Not only does chicken droppings make awesome fertilizer, but the evolving pile of compost also will give your flock opportunities to rutt and dig through it. A compost pile if done correctly houses various worms, bugs, and other yummy goodies that chickens go crazy over! It’s like an easter egg hunt for your feather children. The bigger the pile is the better! Be warned however that if your pile was a pile before, chances are it won’t be anymore, as your flock will make quick work of throwing it anywhere and everywhere!

 

4. Free range exploration

If you free range your flock chances are your chickens find ways to keep themselves entertained without having to go completely out of your way to fix their boredom (minus the lovely winter months). However, if you are one of the overachieving crazy chicken people...like most people who own chickens end up, you will find yourself going out of your way to entertain even your free range poultry! Some great ways to give them some fun is to put rotting logs and wood out for them to investigate. Chances are these pieces will contain numerous amounts of bugs and other little critters to snatch up which not only will give your flock some added protein and various other vitamins and minerals, but will make your eggs better too! Another fun way to encourage brain activity is to buy some scratch grains (I prefer to use Treatsforchickens.com’s Chicken Crack for this application! Not only is it Non-GMO, but it’s certified organic as well!) and throw a handful around in the grass. Be warned, your chickens will go nuts! This is a great way for them to forage and get some brain stimulus for the day!

(photo courtesy of www.treatsforchickens.com)

 

Before you know it you will find yourself looking at free items on the side of the road, scouring online yard sales and facebook groups for things to entertain your little feathered pals. It will happen so don’t avoid it, rather embrace the crazy chicken person stereotype. Your flock will thank you for it and in the end you will thank yourself when your chickens are producing wonderful eggs daily and enjoying every second of their lives on Earth. Not to mention the enjoyment of watching a handful of chickens sifting through your manure pile. Basic boredomcan easily be diverted for both you and your pets with this simple list, but there is no need to stop there. Expand and explore your own DIY ideas. At the end of the day YOU know your chickens best and are the most capable at knowing how to keep them occupied and happy!


Best of luck and keep on clucking!

- Kevin Bullis of Happy Hill Farm

* Guest Blogger of Treats for Chickens *




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