The more fun they have, the more we enjoy it
Chickens are pretty amusing to watch, that’s for sure! Chasing bugs, escorting pests out of their territory, scratching in your garden for goodies, sunbathing, dustbathing, bickering with each other…these little backyard birdies are an endless source of entertainment.
But what happens when they get bored? The “same ol’, same ‘ol" gets dull for humans, and chickens can certainly become blasé with their normal routine. The same old dustbath, same old garden to dig in, same old bunny to march out of the run…eventually, these things became insipidly routine.
Here are some games, puzzles and toys that are fun to create and even more fun to watch your chickens interact with.
Cabbage on a string
Ever play tetherball as a kid? Bouncing a ball tethered to a rope on a pole back and forth to your teammates is great for hand/eye coordination and fun exercise. You can make something similar for your chickens.
Simply tie a heavy-duty string to a knitting needle or chopstick (anything long and “pokey”) and stab it through a head of cabbage. Tie it off on the bottom and knot the long string to a fence post, t-post, tree limb, etc. so it is free-swinging. Then sit back and watch your hens jump and peck the yummy treat while it bounces back and forth!
Buy some heavy-duty freezer bags, some canned corn, canned peas and oats. Mix everything into the bags and seal tightly. Toss it in the freezer overnight, then put it in the yard so your ladies have a refreshing treat to peck and scratch during the hot summer months.
Got some extra lumber, fallen branches or even spare firewood laying around? Start stacking them against the coop, lay out some stumps of various sizes, have your kids make a simple fort. Roosts of various heights and widths can provide exercise and stimulation to your flock.
Hens are vain—bet you never knew that! Find some mirrors at your local thrift shop and prop them up so your hens can admire themselves from all angles!
A wooden rod and 2 ropes is all you need to make a simple, swinging roost! Tie a rope to both sides of a rod or branch, then tie the swing to a tree branch and you can practically hear your chickens saying “Wheee!”.
Remember those colorful, plinking toy xylophones you used to torment your parents with as a kid? Chickens are attracted to colors and explore the world through pecking…imagine their surprise and delight as those pretty colors they are exploring suddenly start making interesting sounds!
Treats on a roll
String, some birdseed, a paper towel roll and peanut butter is all you need for a cheap and easy chicken treat. Run the string through the paper towel roll, smear on a generous amount of peanut butter, pour on the bird seed then hang up the treat and enjoy the show!
Cracked corn in a bottle
Don’t recycle that empty water or pop bottle just yet—instead, punch some holes in the sides, pour in some cracked corn, screw the top back on and toss it in the yard. Your hens will get some great exercise chasing their new toy all around the run.
A little creativity plus some odds and ends you already have laying around plus some treats equals hours of enjoyment for you and your flock!
About the author
Shelby Stone is a writer and communications mechanic at Small Pet Select (shop.smallpetselect.com) when she isn’t busy with her chickens, her horse Percy, Mango the parrot, and the many other animals in her family.
Yes, you can BUY chicken toys
Here’s a DIY chicken toy guide