Just like us, chickens tend to hate being cooped up all day with nothing to do. In fact, boredom and lack of engaging activity within your flock can lead to decreased egg production and aggressive, undesirable behavior, such as bullying and egg eating.
That’s why it’s imperative to keep your hens entertained with exciting, interactive toys that you can make at little to no cost!
Before you get these fancy toys for your brood, they also need the coop to be set up correctly. Learn more from our guide here.
Many of the elements used in creating DIY toys for chickens are naturally sourced and can most likely be found in your own yard.
Dawn Russel of Treats for Chickens provides a few organic options for chicken toys in their blog post “5 DIY Boredom Busters for Chickens.” She lists the following fast and free options to spice up your cozy coop?
Logs or piece of firewood – Whether standing up on one end or laying flat on the ground, these serve as the perfect perch for your flock, providing your chickens with a new element of their environment to explore while simultaneously keeping them from spending the majority of their day sitting on the ground.
Tree Branches – Another similar option, which can easily be found in your backyard, are tree branches. These work ideally within runs, providing your hens with additional roosting space during the day.
Hay or Straw – Simply spreading around a flake of hay within your coop will provide your chickens with hours of entertainment as they dig around in it and throw it every which way. Once the novelty of the straw starts to wear off, you can extend their playtime by adding a handful or two of treats.
A favorite treat around our coop is Manna Pro Garden Delight (which can be easily bought at any Tractor Supply Company or your local farm store). Sprinkle that over the straw, and your chickens will once again excitedly burrow into it in search of a tasty treat.
Additionally, you may return to your coop or run to find your happy hens nestled in the straw, relaxing after a long day of play.
If you’re wondering about using straw as bedding, we discuss the different types of bedding here, and list several suitable options.
Other Natural Ideas…
Sunflowers – They’ll peck at the seeds for hours!
Table Scraps – just be aware of what NOT to feed them. We discuss what food chickens can eat here. Think carrot tops, celery leaves, lettuce, etc.
Leaves – Dumping a pile of leaves in the run provides a great deal of adventure. They’ll be scratching to see what bugs lay waiting.
Grass Clippings – These harbor bugs, seeds, and other goodies your flock will love. If you have a grass catcher attached to your mower, empty the bag into the run and watch them go wild!
Old Stump – If you burn firewood, this will be easy – just throw a larger piece of wood on end. It won’t be long and you’ll see them flying onto it, perching for a while, and simply giving them a different view and a bit of exercise.
DIY Toys For Chickens
In addition to the many natural options, there are also several DIY toys for chickens that allow you to tap into your creative and crafty side.
Plastic Bottle – You can start by reusing a clean plastic bottle of any size, such as a water or soda bottle. After removing the cap, carefully poke holes throughout the bottle, just large enough for the seeds you’re feeding to make their way out, but not too big so they pour out freely. Make sure to keep your fingers away from your instrument as you cut the holes, to avoid injury.
Once you’re satisfied with your creation, fill the bottle with seed or treats and tightly screw the cap back on. Then you can toss it out into your coop or run, and watch your flock excitedly peck at and play with their new up-cycled toy! Be sure to retrieve the bottle after they have finished playing with it, so that you can keep it safe and intact for their next round of playtime.
Wire Basket – Another cheap homemade toy for your chickens can be easily created using an old wire basket and some produce! If you have an extra wire basket lying around, then you’re all set; but if not, you can purchase one online or at Target or Walmart for between $8 and $15, depending on what size you prefer for your coop.
Once you have your basket, simply hang it in your coop using bale twine or string, and fill with produce such as greens or apple slices. Remember to hang your basket at an appropriate height for the breed of hens you keep; after all, you wouldn’t want it to be so high that the smaller members of your flock miss out on all the fun!
Mirrors – Considering the purpose of homemade hen toys (namely, to keep your chickens entertained and active!), mirrors also make a wonderful addition to any coop by providing a two-fold source of amusement.
Not only will your hens enjoy marveling at their reflections, the rainbows generated by the sunlight striking the mirror will produce an excellent object of exploration for your flock.
However, if you intend on hanging a mirror in your coop, it’s important to note that, ideally, the mirror should be the shatterproof kind typically used in baby cribs and parakeet cages. If you don’t have a mirror available, you can buy one online or at a store in your area.
Old CD (compact discs) – If you’re not looking to spend a lot of money on your homemade toys for chickens, never fret! Backyard Chickens, an interactive public forum for all poultry men, suggests hanging an old CD with a piece of string in your coop or run as a substitute for a mirror.
In additional to your hens still being able to view their reflections, hanging a mirror in a chicken run may also help deter aerial predators such as hawks.
Toys To Buy
Finally, if you’re looking to purchase toys for your flock, there are still plenty of safe and affordable options!
Happy Hen Treats provides a variety of interactive treat-dispensing toys, from ceramic eggs to a wire treat ball ready to be filled with greens and hung right in your coop. These are available both online and at any rural retail store, such as PetSmart or Tractor Supply Company.
Another product that creates an exciting and intriguing new aspect of your coop is the chicken swing. Start by hanging it low to the ground, and once your hens get the “swing” of it, then you can raise it to increase the thrill!
You’ll be able to watch them explore this new toy as they jump on and off, or perhaps just gently swing to sooth themselves. If you’re considering purchasing a chicken swing, keep in mind that it’s best to introduce your chickens to it at a young age; if they are more acclimated to the toy, they will be more likely to use it once they’re older.
Other Toys Which Can Be Purchased…
- Peck and Play Ball
- Wooden Flexible Ladder
- Hanging Bells
Many of these toys and more can be purchased here.
The Last “Cluck”
Chickens are unique and intriguing creatures that require engagement and excitement within their coop to keep them happy and healthy.
From homemade toys for chickens to store-bought toys, there is no limit to the fun and creative ways you can find to keep your flock interacting with their environment, thus nurturing their love for adventure while keeping them joyful and active.
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