4 Strategies to Beat Flock Boredom August 19, 2014

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”!

Combat flock boredom by offering forage

Here the flock has a blast digging around in a pile f lawn clippings.

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.

sam - the flock and their perches 006

Chickens love places to perch, both in and outside the 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.

chicken swing

Have you ever seen a chicken on a 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

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This hen enjoys a new perspective from the height of an old stump.

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!

10 Comments
Charles Ingrao August 19th, 2014

Do most of what you wrote. The swing is a great idea, also adding perch’s in the pen.

Bill Gilmore August 20th, 2014

I, too, have a stump and a couple of logs in the run. I also have a braced pallet standing on it’s end that they love to jump onto. I need to try the swing!

Stephanie Martell August 28th, 2014

I have started making “chicken salads.” We keep a bag of kale in the freezer, and I crumple some up and mix it with minced squash, apples, or whatever veggies I have on hand, then let it come to room temperature and take it out to the chickens. They love it, and I love sitting there watching them play “chicken football” while they all chase the chicken who got the first piece.

I also think just moving things around–perches, food, water, etc.–helps keep things interesting.

I’m currently having a discussion with my husband about whether or not we should get our chickens a radio. I think they would enjoy it 🙂

Help me please August 30th, 2014

My chickens are reacting to a small piece of feather picked off. They do not see blood only the skin. but they still attack. A large black cat came this morning and made its way in the koop. two chickens were dead but they were not eaten just killed. Could it be my chickens killing each other and why would they? Or was it mostly the cat. The night later something did finish off eating almost everything of my two dead chickens. (mostly likely the cat) . I know if it were another animal like crafty raccoons more than two would be dead.

Lissa September 3rd, 2014

I’m not entirely sure I’m understanding your story correctly, but I’ll try to respond.Cats do occasionally bother chickens, but it’s fairly rare when they’re adult, large fowl chicken breeds. In addition, it’s difficult to imagine a cat eating the reamins of two full grown chickens; they just don’t eat that much! (In the future, be sure the remains of any victims can’t be reached by predators (bury them, if it’s legal in your area), and make sure your coop is secure from predators at night.) It’s possible you’re dealing with something like an opossum rather than the cat. Read more about opossums as chicken predators and how to make your coop secure against them. It is possible for chickens to kill each other, but you will generally see squabbling, because such aggression typically occurs only if there isn’t enough space, whether the crowding is occurring in the coop, run, on the roosts or at feeders/waterers. It doesn’t typically escalate to death without some warning. We hope your remaining chickens will be okay!

Help me please September 10th, 2014

thank you. Nothing bad has happened so far after expanding the fence outside of the koop. Everything remains calm. And the cat has not stopped by. I shot some bb rounds to scare it off. I did this only once or three times. I did have to separate the chicken with the bare skin on the side of the neck. He seems fine being just out of reach from the chickens. He does get to run free around the pines and garden from time to time.

[…] it happen in the first place. Take common sense precautions like providing plenty of space and entertainment, lots of room on roosts and at feeders, and make sure you don’t just have one poor […]

Kris February 25th, 2015

Love the stump idea! We have some logs in the front yard that I’ll now be moving to the run area.

Monica Sanders May 29th, 2015

About the swing. I put one in their outdoor coop/pen. They would try to get on it, lose their balance, jump down only to be hit in the tail feathers eliciting an indignant squawk and dash to safety. It’s humerous for humans to watch, but it doesn’t seem to be fun for the chickens. After three weeks, I just took it down.

[…] at the toys they’ve added to keep boredom away when the girls have to be locked up. They have the Chicken Treat Balls, the Boredom Busting Ball, […]

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