One thing is for sure, winter is LONG. The chickens, well, they’re not what I’d call and particularly smart animal, but they do get bored in the winter when they’re mostly stuck indoors, with no ground to scratch and peck and forage at. I can see how it’d get old fast. The more bored they are, the more crotchety they get, and the more entertainment value they see in just pestering each other. They’re starting to look pretty disheveled, as they’re all missing feathers, and bare in patches. Spring, please come soon!
There are was to help alleviate the boredom for the chickens, and I thought it’d be fun to show you some of the methods we’re using this year.
Cabbage/Lettuce on a Rope:
It is what sounds like, a cabbage head, or lettuce head, on a rope or string, hung up in the chicken coop. The chickens will peck at it, and it swings. It takes them longer to eat it and provides them some interesting stimulation. Sometimes a bunch of them will crowd around it and pass it back and forth!
I let the puppy, Sam, test out the integrity of the string I used. He thought it made a pretty decent puppy toy as well!
We’ve done this a few times, and the chickens just LOVE it.
Treats in a Bottle:
Take an old pop or water bottle, cut some holes in it, and fill it with feed or treats. Then hang it in the coop. The chickens can peck at it and as it swings, some treats will fall out for them.
Hours of fun for bored chickens!
Dust Bath Pan:
Another boredom buster for chickens is for sure a dust bath. Who doesn’t love a good dust bath? During the summer months the chickens will burrow themselves a nice little hole in the dirt and roll around in it for a dust bath, and in the winter I sometimes see holes in the shavings of the chicken coop where they’ve tried to do the same. They also all LOVE it on litter clean out day- when I muck out the coop and change the litter in the pans under their roosts- as soon as those litter pans are clean, they all dive in for a bath! So I simply got an old cat litter tray, filled it with chicken litter or shavings, and stuck it in the coop for them- voila, dust bath! It’s practically a chicken spa day!
Sounds simple, right? It is! A couple tin pie plates from the dollar store, some string, hang it up in the coop. Done and done. I think of it as a chicken mirror.
Another easy fix is to periodically add a bale of hay to the coop. And I don’t mean to spread the hay as bedding, I mean just plop a hay bale in there for them to climb on and explore. My chickens love it, and after a while we’ll break it open and spread it thickly so they can scratch and peck all through it. You could add anything that they could climb on and they’d be entertained checking out the new thing.
Those are just a few ideas for you to entertain your chickens in winter/ There’s probably many more out there, but these are the ones we’ve tried and had success with.