Flock boredom can be an occasional problem in any flock. Do your chickens sit around for most of the day, not amused by each other or the things in their coop? Let me help you beat flock boredom. Keeping your flock entertained is good for their health, and the quality of their eggs. These methods of entertaining your flock are both very simple and inexpensive (if not free), so why not? Your chickens will surely thank you!
1.) Combat flock boredom by offering kitchen scraps or other treats they can have fun "foraging"!
When your chickens are confined to a run, scraps are a free and simple way you can give your flock some entertainment. By saving fruit, vegetable, bread, noodle, and grain scraps you can bring the health of your flock up substantially, mentally and nutritionally. Things to avoid giving your flock are dairy products, avocados, and potato skins, because they are either difficult to digest or even poisonous! Limit consumption of bread, citrus, and pasta, because they are low in protein and have little nutritional value. Be sure to also avoid giving them things like garlic, onions, and asparagus, which can affect the flavoring of your eggs. Chicks should be kept on chick starter, and only chick starter, until they reach an appropriate age to start eating treats. To be safe, we stick to moderate amounts of noodles and vegetables as treats, because they are things we eat a lot of and know the chickens can eat. Tie pieces of bread and vegetables to a piece of string and watch the chickens try to get it off, a great way to entertain them for a little longer than just throwing it onto the ground.
2.) Combat flock boredom by adding perches to the run, in addition to those inside your coop.
We all know chickens sleep on roosts in their coop, but perches in the run can also reduce flock boredom. Roosts can be made out of anything from tree branches to a plank of wood left over from when you build your coop. We have two old pieces of wood nailed to the fence in our run and our chickens are perching on and jumping off them all the time! They use them so much, I am most likely going to add some more soon. Be sure that the perch you make is sturdy enough to hold a couple of your chickens safely, so they don't get hurt when playing on it.
3.) Combat flock boredom by offering them a toy, such as a Chicken Swing.
A Chicken Swing is a great way to entertain your chickens! You can buy this fancy looking swing, hang it in your coop, and your chickens will be endlessly entertained. While these are the most expensive on the list, they are one I would definitely suggest investing in. The video of the chicken swing in action is great! There are other fun chicken toys, too--and you can even make your own easy DIY chicken toys, as well. Introducing a new bird to your flock? Craft your own version of a chicken swing. Just be sure it is sturdy and well attached to where its being hung, and it's at least 18" off the ground to avoid a chicken swinging into another chicken. Or simply string up a cabbage head so you flock will be distracted from the new bird!
4.) Combat flock boredom by re-arranging or adding something new to your coop or run
Chickens are naturally curious creatures, and are always interesting in new things in their coops. Whether it be a log, a pumpkin, or an overturned bucket, they will be interested in it. They will spend lots of time pecking it, jumping on top of it, and even pooping on it. We have two old stumps in our chicken run (pictured above) that give the chickens endless entertainment. Whenever I look our the window at their coop, there is always someone on it. Want to make it even more interesting? Put scraps or treats on top of it and watch them try to get it off! If they seem to show little interest in the objects you put there, or they lose interest, try adding something else. Some things like the stumps will not cease to entertain them.
Remember, having a happy and entertained flock will help distract your birds and help redirect any aggressive behavior! I hope you'll try out some of these ways to entertain your flock, and I also challenge you to invent some of your own ways to alleviate flock boredom. Chickens are easily amused, so it shouldn't be too hard of a challenge... but if you have a really good idea, I'd love for you to share it with me in the comments below, so I can try it with my own flock!