Curbing Boredom in the Coop

Nov 22, 2022

As chickens spend more time confined in their coop through the winter months, boredom and behavioral problems such as egg-eating, feather picking, and cannibalism may occur. Proactively planning ways to keep your chickens entertained can ensure they stay happy and healthy until spring.
Keep reading for five boredom-busting activities!
  1. Provide structures for roosting
Chickens have a natural instinct to roost off the ground, so provide them plenty of structures, ladders, stumps, chairs, swings, etc. to perch on. Adding height to their coop will also increase the square footage available to the flock and allow them to have their own space. Remember to move around the structures within the coop from time-to-time to keep your flock interested.
  1. Let them bathe
Dust baths are important for keeping parasites at bay and cleaning the feathers. When the ground is frozen or covered in snow, consider creating a dust bath that can be moved inside the coop. Simply fill up a box, kitty litter pan, or other container with natural dirt, potting soil, peat moss, or sand to add a new enrichment activity to your coop.
  1. Make a pile
Fun fact — chickens hate piles! Try putting a pile of dried leaves, pine needles, corn stalks, or natural dirt in the run and watch as your flock spends the day scratching and kicking the pile until it is leveled. Sprinkle some feed in the pile to really increase the excitement. You can also spread a bale of hay or straw inside the coop, which can be easier to remove later if you so choose.
  1. Offer creative treats
When offered in moderation, treats can provide hours of entertainment. Consider hanging a pumpkin in the coop, baking alfalfa protein treats, growing sprouts in accessible containers, releasing live crickets, or tying up a bunch of kale or collard greens. Just keep in mind that no more than 5% of a chicken’s diet should be fed as treats.
  1. Hang a mirror
Being the natural preeners they are, chickens can have a great time looking at themselves in a mirror. Make sure the mirror is securely attached to the wall so that it cannot fall or break as hens crowd around. If you have a rooster, you may want to skip this step — he may not take kindly to another male in the coop.
            All these activities must be paired with a balanced diet if your flock is to remain healthy for the upcoming spring. For poultry pellets, crumbles, scratch grains, peck blocks, and other supplies for the coop, visit your local Co-op.
For more content like this, check out the latest issue of The Cooperator.

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