In the colder months your hens can spend more time in their run and less time free ranging in your garden, field, or orchard. This can lead to boredom and bad behaviour as chickens need something to occupy their time…
In many ways chickens can be like small children – they like shiny objects, they’re easily distracted, and they can cause mass destruction if they’re not kept entertained.
Luckily keeping your hens occupied doesn’t have to be difficult and unlike small children they won’t be clamouring for the latest toy or games console. In fact, a head of cauliflower could be the best present you could ever give them!
If you’re new to the world of chicken boredom busters or you’re looking for more inspiration here are our top tips for keeping your flock amused:
Fun and healthy!
Any treats that give your poultry something to do and ensure they get all their vitamins and minerals have to be a good thing, right?
Hanging a cabbage or cauliflower from the roof of their enclosure will keep them occupied for hours playing “piñata” and then they can forage for fallen bits of veg when they’re done.
You can also purchase specifically made “treat balls” which are delicious and high in energy to keep hens healthy all year round.
Now we’re not saying that chickens are vain but they do like to check out their reflection from time to time. Lightweight, shatterproof, and plastic mirrors are an inexpensive purchase that can be found in many bargain homeware shops.
Fix the mirror to your run using cable ties and watch your hens pamper and preen!
Chickens love to have a “bird’s eye view” of the world so providing them with outside perches, swings, or stumps to stand on will give them a better look at their surroundings.
Tree stumps, branches, old ladders, and broom handles can all be used to give your hens a multi-level environment.
For something fancy and ready to go you can purchase a chicken swing from the British Hen Welfare Trust shop.
Piles of leaves
This is a great tip for the autumn months when you’ll have an abundance of fallen leaves in your garden. For reasons known only to themselves chickens hate piles so try putting a pile of leaves in their enclosure and see how quickly they start to destroy it!
Chickens love anything new that they can investigate – wooden crates, a plastic rake, an old broom head, or even a tub of mud – will be greatly appreciated by your flock.
As long as the item can’t injure or damage your hens in any way go ahead and let them check it out.
Move things around
If you can easily move your chicken house then try putting it in a new part of the garden. Not only will this give a bit of your garden a rest but it will also allow your hens to explore a new environment.
If you’ve got a permanent poultry enclosure then why not move your flock’s feeder and other accessories to new places? Your chickens will have fun looking for things that have moved and moving things might even reveal worms, bugs, and other edible goodies!