Reducing Boredem In Chickens…

Free Ranging and Training Chickens...

“In a recent article about food wastage, the response suggested this may occur as a result of boredom among hens. How would you suggest alleviating boredom? I try to let me hens roam whenever possible, but when I’m at work during the week, they are contained as my urban garden is not fully fenced. There are a few perches within their run, but not a great deal for them to do! Many thanks,” ~ Kate

Hi Kate, I’m glad you wrote.

Just like my children, I find that when my chickens are bored, they get into trouble.

My hens eat their eggs, peck at each other more and throw their food on the ground when they’re bored. The roosters (we don’t have any currently) used to fight with each other, crow more often and harass the hens constantly.

With all our animals, and children too for that matter, we have to give them plenty of good things to do so they don’t have time to engage in bad behavior.

Obviously the more interesting their environment, the less trouble the chickens will get into. It’s not really about the amount of space they have: after all, 1,000 square feet of concrete would be much less interesting than 100 square feet with grass, plants, bugs and worms.

If you have to confine your chickens to a limited space that is really not all that interesting naturally, you’ll need to make it interesting.

Did you know that chickens have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)?

Okay, not really but they are very easily distracted.

Here’s a real 21st Century idea; hang a few old compact discs where the chickens can watch them. They’re mesmerized by the way they spin in the wind. They love the way the sun shines off of the back of them, reflecting a prism of light onto another surface. It’s pretty neat.

Another idea is to suspend a hanging basket full of greens. The basket I’m suggesting is one made of loosely woven wire. Hang it high enough that the birds have to do some work to get the food out of the sides but not so high that they’re discouraged and give up.

I know of someone who made a maze-type area for his chickens to play in. It’s not really a maze, just a number of straw bales placed in such a way that there are hiding places. It’s two stories; there are tunnels, just fun stuff for his curious chickens to explore.

How about burying something for your chickens to find?

Kitchen scraps placed under some straw might be fun. Get creative and use your imagination.

I haven’t spent much time looking for chicken toys but I’d bet they are out there.

After all, you can buy special chicken leashes, chicken diapers, and all kinds of crazy things. I’m not suggesting you have to buy special toys for your chickens, I am saying that it might be worth looking into so that you can get some ideas and adapt them to things you already have around the house to entertain your chickens.

Lastly, I don’t think that it’s inhumane if our chickens are not entertained.

I do see the benefit of lessened mischief when they have something to do.

As always, if you all have had any success stories in this area, I’d love to hear about them.

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