How to Prevent Boredom in Chickens?
Chickens get bored quickly if they don’t have something to keep them entertained. Just like humans, chickens love games, new ideas, and activities that keep them occupied especially during the day.
Sometimes chickens make their own fun when they have nothing meaningful to keep them busy. Their idea of fun can vary from hen to another. Some can resort to pulling out their feathers while others can decide to peck at other chickens or eat their own eggs before you collect them.
With free-ranging birds, you do not have to constantly worry about their boredom. They rarely become bored since they have all the time to explore and interact with each other. Only cooped chickens should worry you when it comes to their boredom.
With nothing else around but their coop and each other, confined chickens are more likely to get bored and fall into trouble than the free-ranging ones.
If you opt to have your birds cooped most of the time, then you should find a way to make them lively and active. Doing so will help prevent them from going stir crazy.
So, you must create an enriching and enticing environment around them. Make some changes in their usual routine to ensure that your cooped flock is happy and healthy throughout.
Bored Chicken Behavior
As mentioned before, bored chickens are likely to engage in the following activities:
- Egg eating
- Lack of egg production
- Pecking on each other
Whenever you see your birds behaving in any way that seems to endanger others, you should just know they are not happy with their surroundings. For that reason, you need to find better ways to keep them excited and distracted.
Here is how to go about taking away boredom from your chickens:
10 Ways to Keep Your Chickens Entertained
Even though chickens are creative with ideas that make them entertained, free-ranging is a better way to take away their boredom.
However, in winter your chickens may have nothing to do outdoors since there are usually no bugs to eat, grasses and weeds to peck at or insects to chase around. So, they spend most of their time in their coops, which can possibly lead to boredom and unhappiness.
To keep them amused, you should consider providing the following items:
Just like human beings, chickens take pride in their looks. So, having a mirror around them will help them spend some time checking themselves out. A mirror will most likely take away their thoughts and boredom while in confinement.
That is why you may have seen your hens or even other birds pecking, prancing, and squawking in front of a mirror.
Your mirror of choice can be of any size or shape, provided that it is clear enough to reflect images of your chickens. Ensure that the mirror is strategically placed where all or most chickens can access it.
Also, the mirror should be firmly attached to the wall to prevent your birds from accidentally knocking it over while scrambling to have a glimpse of their own images.
If roosters are part of your flock, then using a mirror to make your birds happy is not a good idea. Roosters do not feel comfortable when there is another male chicken within their flock. In that case, a rooster seeing its image in a mirror might mistake it for a rival rooster.
2. Dust Bath
Your chickens can also become bored easily when outside their coops. Therefore, you should think of a solution that will keep them busy, interactive, and active while roaming the backyard.
In this regard, you should make an effort to provide a dust bath at a designated location for your birds to spend some time playing and bathing themselves with the dust. This idea is also helpful since dust is known to control mites from chickens.
If the floor inside the coop is not made with the type of dirt your birds can bath in, you can look for a spare tire or a large shallow pan and fill it with fine dirt or sand. On top of that, you can add fine food-grade diatomaceous earth to the dust bath.
The diatomaceous earth will help eliminate fleas and mites that might be hiding on your chickens. With the dust bath around, you will certainly enjoy the sight of your birds having some fun all day long.
3. Pumpkin or Watermelon
Offer your chickens fresh foods regularly including pumpkin and watermelon. Either the pumpkin or watermelon will keep them active and happy when they compete to peck at these fruits. Plus, chickens do not turn down the delicious, juicy fruit around them.
A few slices of watermelon or pumpkin are always popular with chickens and other poultry. However, provide these fruits in moderation to avoid upsetting their digestive tracts. Make sure to wash these fruits before tossing them to your birds.
4. Compost Pile
Make a composite pile in your chicken coop to help them play around instead of staying bored for too long. Normally chickens spend their time scratching, turning, and scattering a composite pile they come across when free-ranging.
This means that creating a version of a composite pile inside their coop will definitely help them spend their time scratching around while looking for worms and bugs.
5. Leaf Pile
If you have piles of leaves and other vegetation around your compound, you can use them to create a nice place for your chickens to kill their boredom inside the coop. Add an armful of soft, dried leaves to one of the corners of your coop.
Your birds will love this idea and most of them will spend a better part of their daytime rustling through the leaf pile looking for insects and bugs. Some will enjoy scattering the leaves all over the coop in a bid to avoid boredom.
6. Straw Bales
One or two bales of fresh straw can also help your birds overcome their boredom while in the coop. But ensure that your coop is spacious enough for a straw bale. At the same time, each bale should be held tightly together using baling twine to prevent your chickens from scattering it all over the floor.
The presence of straw bales in a coop will make your hens jump on them and scratch around in enjoyment. Some may peck through the bales to find bugs and other insects. Most can root around among the strands of the straw bales looking for grains. That is how straw bales can help your chickens avoid boredom.
Treats can uplift your chickens’ mood. A few treats will certainly make your birds excited and active and this is the best way to help them handle their boredom better. Treats are usually delicious and nutritious. Your chickens will at least get something new besides their usual poultry feed.
At the same time, they will have something to spend time pecking at instead of pecking at each other. Be careful not to feed them with too many treats because they might get used to them and refuse to take their usual chicken food.
8. Make a Swing
Since chickens love to perch, you can make swings for them. There are swings designed specifically for chickens. You can hang these swings from your chicken coop ceiling at a height that they can easily access. The addition of colorful bells and beads can make the swings look more enticing and enjoyable for your birds.
Just like other types of birds, chickens also like climbing on anything they come across. In this regard, make sure to help them manage their boredom by providing them with ladders. Flexible ladders designed for chickens can easily stretch across the coop or run to give your chickens a reason to play around.
These ladders can be horizontal or vertical. The horizontal ladders are made to swing a little bit while staying firm to accommodate as many chickens as possible. With the vertical ladders, you may place them in a manner that leads your chickens up to their roosts or lean them against the wall while inside the coop.
10. Cabbage Tetherball
Hang several cabbage tetherballs inside the coop for your chickens to enjoy pecking at during the day. Use a piece of string to hang each cabbage where your birds can reach it.
The cabbage should come straight from the shop to your coop and not the kitchen since it is not right to feed your chickens on scraps or food obtained from non-vegan kitchens.
Whenever you discover that your chickens are bored or not happy, you should find out the reason behind their current state. Their boredom could be as a result of staying in their coops for too long, overcrowding, or simply a change in the weather conditions.
Whichever the case, make sure to look for a lasting solution that will excite your birds. With that said, provide simple items such as mirrors, composite piles, leaf piles, straw bales, treats, and dust baths. Also, make cabbage tetherballs and swings to keep them occupied and active across the day.
Regularly add one or two new things to their run or coop so they can spend some time inspecting them. After all, happy chickens are healthy and productive birds.