Whether your flock of chickens is allowed to free range or they are confined to a coop and run, there can be times when they become bored and need a little additional entertainment.
Simple boredom busters for backyard chickens involve routinely changing their surroundings, keeping the flock occupied and moving around so they are less likely to develop behavioral issues.
Boredom is frequently seen in free ranging chickens during the wintertime, when the cold weather keeps them from wanting to venture out.
Chickens that are confined to their coop and run are especially prone to boredom and need a change in scenery every once in awhile.
If you don’t nip boredom in the bud, it can lead to behavioral problems such as bullying, feather plucking, fighting amongst the flock as well as egg eating.
Keeping a list of activities for your chickens in your back pocket is key. Alternate between several on your list to keep things fresh, new and exciting for your flock. The following is my list of some simple boredom busters for backyard chickens.
Hang a Fruit and Vegetable Skewer
I never let my fruits and veggies go to waste. If they are beginning to turn brown, I put them in a pile for my chickens. One by one, I add them to the skewer and when it is full I serve it to them.
If you don’t have any fruits or vegetables, you can ask your neighbors to set aside any that they may have that are still ok for the chickens. Just because a human won’t eat it, doesn’t mean that a chicken won’t eat it. Just as long as they do not have any mold on them, they are ok for the chickens.
I love to watch my hens peck at the fruits and veggies as it spins. It keeps them entertained for quite some time. As each of them pecks at the food, it begins to spin and sway back and forth, making it a little more challenging for them to get at!
Place Veggies in a Hanging Planter Basket
I designed a hanging treat basket for my hens to enjoy their fruits and veggies with. It works great for a head of lettuce, cauliflower or broccoli. They look forward to me filling this basket and absolutely LOVE pecking at whatever I place inside of it.
This basket will spin around and sway back and forth, giving them a low impact workout getting their treats!
Make a Special Dust Bath Area
Make a special dust bath area for your flock to clean and cool off in. This can be by using and old tire and filling it with some play sand. Or you can get an old plantar box and fill it with sand for them.
I find that in the wintertime chickens love to find a warm, sunny area to dust bathe in.
A dust bathing area doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It can be as simple as picking an area on your property or run and just adding some natural insecticides, dirt and sand. It not only will help to get rid of any parasites when you chickens roll around there, but will smell pretty good too!
Some Beneficial Ingredients to Add to Your Chickens Dust Bath:
- Dry, medium or course play sand. Don’t use fine sand. Fine sand can get too dusty and create respiratory problems.
- Dry dirt
- Diatomaceous Earth – Add a little diatomaceous earth to your dirt and sand. This will help to deter mites, lice and ticks from attaching to your chickens.
- Add some dried herbs such as lavender, mint and rosemary. These herbs act as natural insecticides and smell good too!
- Other dried herbs that help to deter parasites are fennel and ginger.
Cut Branches for a New Perch
Don’t throw away your old branches when you cut your trees. Chickens love new things to perch up on. Set some larger branches aside and periodically switch out what you have in your chicken run.
If you don’t have another perch for them, change the location of where the one is in your run. Chickens love to hop up and see things from a different perspective.
Hang a Shatterproof Mirror
Chickens LOVE to look at themselves in the mirror! Either hang a shatterproof mirror or securely attach it to the coop. Chickens have fun watching the reflections that bounce off of it.
Make sure the mirror that you choose is shatterproof because the chickens will peck at it!
The mirror I have in the photo above, I purchased at my local dollar store! Check out my article on 23 Important Chicken Supplies – Purchase at Your Dollar Store for more chicken supplies you can get at your local dollar store.
Spend Time With Your Chickens!
This may sound silly to those that do not have chickens, but sit with your chickens. Talk to them while you are working in their chicken run, cleaning it out.
You are very interesting to them and they probably think of you as part of their flock, especially if you do this often.
This will also give you the opportunity to watch how they interact with each other. You might notice that one of your hens is injured or one is being picked on.
Another advantage to you spending more time with your flock, other than entertaining them, is that you may notice some things need tended to in your coop.
Better fix that board that is coming loose in the coop and fix the automatic chicken waterer that is not working properly. Your flock will enjoy watching you work on their home!
Make Your Own Chicken Fodder
Chickens especially get bored in the winter months because they don’t want to venture off as far. They would rather stay confined to the areas that are covered. Chickens don’t especially enjoy walking in the snow or getting rained on!
During the winter months, even free ranging chickens start getting bored because they don’t want to venture off in the rain and the lands that were once lush and green are covered with snow.
Bottom line, being “cooped up” can cause some serious boredom among the flock.
Something that I started doing is growing my own fodder. It is so simple to do. Just choose a grain such as wheat, barley, buckwheat, millet, oats, etc.
Fodder is made by sprouting these grains and then feeding them to your chickens.
When you sprout the grains, you “unlock” up to 50% more nutrients than just dried grains have. You can provide them greens all year round and it is a total boredom buster for your flock too!
Learn How to Breed Your Own Mealworm Farm
Nothing is more hilarious than watching your chickens go absolutely CRAZY over live mealworms! Your flock will get a high impact workout chasing each other around when you throw these out for them!
This is a serious boredom buster for your chickens and also a good source of protein for them.
You can purchase live mealworms at your local pet store, but it can get pricy if you do it often. Breeding mealworms is the way to go if you want to offer it to them more frequently.
When you breed mealworms, you only need to purchase the mealworms one time at your local pet store. Supplies are minimal: 3 shelf drawer, dried oats and some carrots. It will save you quite a bit of money in the long run!
Bring Bugs and Worms to the Surface
Maybe breeding mealworms isn’t for you? You can also help your chickens find some worms and bugs to the surface.
Take some plywood and lay it down over a wet area in their chicken run or out in your yard. Once a week, lift it up and let your chickens go crazy eating all the nice cockroaches, grasshoppers, spiders, crickets and more!
Each week, move the board to another damp location. If you need to, water the area down first and then place the plywood on top.
Hang Food in Chicken Wire
This works great for cooked vegetables such as sweet potatoes, potatoes and zucchini! Just make sure that both sides of the chicken wire are inside of the coop. You don’t want to tempt any outside predators.
The chicken wire I used to hang my cooked veggies with is the wire that separates my older flock from my older flock. This is a good way to get them used to each other (eating side by side), without endangering the younger one’s.
At the end of the day, any unfinished food should be put away.
Wintertime Boredom Busters for Chickens
Christmas Tree for Your Chickens
Don’t recycle your Christmas tree until you let your chickens enjoy it first! Most pines are suitable for chickens, but make sure it is not a poisonous one.
Chickens like to use the branches to perch on and may even occasionally nibble on some of the needles. It is said to be a natural dewormer for chickens and goats. Dried needles can be used for the coop floor or even in the nesting boxes.
Halloween Pumpkins for Chickens
Don’t throw away your halloween pumpkins after Halloween! Set them out for your chickens to peck at and enjoy. Pumpkins contain so many wonderful nutrients for your chickens, including the seeds that are loaded with vitamin E.
Carved pumpkins are perfect just as they are to give to your chicken. Just make sure that you remember to take the candle and any wax that may be in there out!
Your chickens will eat pumpkin until the only thing left is the skin! Watch them run around chasing each other for the stringy insides of the pumpkin. Great cardio for your flock!
Make a Hay Pathway for Chickens
Most chickens do not enjoy going out into the snow. Many will just stay in their covered areas until the snow finally melts. Throw some hay out on top of the snow to coax them out of their coop and covered run!
This will get most chickens out of their coop!
Place their food or a chicken treat out beside a hay pathway that you have made. Most chickens will get out and walk on the hay. They don’t mind the cold temperature, its the snow on their feet they don’t care for.
CONCLUSION: What Are Your Favorite Boredom Busters for Chickens?
Keeping your chickens from getting bored can cut down on behavioral issues such as bullying, feather plucking and egg eating. Having your own “bag of tricks” to keep your flock occupied during these times is key. What is your favorite boredom buster for your chickens?
Other Popular Methods of Beating the Boredom:
Let them out of the coop for some free ranging.
Throw some crickets out for your chickens.
Fill an empty plastic bottle with treats.
Make a puddle of water for them to walk in on a hot day.
Make a chicken swing.