By Patrick Biggs, Ph.D., Purina chicken nutritionist
If you’ve ever felt cooped up during a harsh, cold winter, you can imagine how your bug-loving, sunshine-savoring chickens must feel. Luckily, there are fun and easy activities to help your flock avoid winter boredom (and pecking problems).
Send them outside
Just like your kids, chickens can be sent outdoors to play in the snow and cold air. It’s good for them! Their feathers keep them warm, and their lower legs and feet have very little muscle to limit the risk of frostbite.
Create a gym
Add a few logs, sturdy branches or old ladders to your coop. Your chickens will love new perches and places to explore. If you really want to spoil them, hang some chicken swings!
Bring out the toys
These are as much fun for you, as they are for your chickens. Buy or make enrichment activities and toys – hanging mirrors, bells, musical instruments to peck, treat balls, balls of shredded materials, and wind-up walking toys to chase. Get creative and see what they enjoy most.
Give them snack time
Snack time is a great time to bond with your chickens, as long as you don’t overdo it. Keep treats to 10% or less of their diet and only give snacks after they’ve eaten their complete feed. Try the Purina Flock Block supplement – it’s a 25-pound block of whole grains, oyster shell and other nutrients that encourages hens to peck it instead of each other. You can also hand feed a few Farm to Flock Protein Blend for Hens or Larvae for Ladies hen treats.