I’m sitting here giggling as I write this blog because I have a confession. Are you ready? I have always loved toys. Obviously as a young child I did, but the joy that toys bring has never left me. I’m a grown, adult woman and yet, a stroll down the toy aisle to see what’s new will still bring me joy. Now, before you think I’m crazy, I don’t buy myself toys (that would be weird), but I love providing new adventures for my chickens!
I think the general public would get a good chuckle that many of us buy or create toys for our flocks. And many large scale chicken operations probably don’t even give buying toys a thought. On the other hand, backyard chicken keepers are a whole different group of people! We collect chickens, cute t-shirts about chickens, chicken decor, and are always on the lookout for anything chicken! Am I right? So, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to any of you that I’m always on the lookout for toys or items that will keep my chickens entertained.
Why is this important? Chickens love to forage and explore. If there aren't toys or different things to keep them busy, chickens will get bored. Boredom leads to picking on each other. And picking on each other leads to injury or even death. Sound dramatic? It’s not, I promise!
Over the years, I have narrowed down my top 3 favorite “toys”. I’ve tried just about all of them and these are the ones I love the most. Before any of you ask, I have tried the chicken xylophone. I maybe didn’t introduce it early enough, but my girls leave it alone for the most part. I’m waiting for a spectacular version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but so far that hasn’t happened!
Without further ado, here are my top 3 toys for backyard chickens!
Hanging Treat Ball
An inexpensive and long lasting idea is the Hanging Treat Ball. My girls love a good head of cabbage or lettuce and they will peck at this for hours! You can also put other produce in there and they love trying to figure out how to get every last piece. Hands down, my favorite toy.
The next toy takes a little more effort and planning. However, you wouldn’t have to build it as large as we did. One day as I was scrolling through different boredom busters, I had a picture pop up of a chicken playset. I sent the picture to my husband and daughter and by the time I got home that day, they had the thing built! This has provided hour upon hours of entertainment for our girls.
When we get little chicks in the spring, I always buy little cat toys that are safe for them to play with. They love it! However, I also have a playground that’s meant more for domesticated birds such as cockatiels or canaries. This little playset is something the chicks go wild over! That way, they’re not spending their days pecking the eyeballs of their brooder mates either. There are always plenty of things to do in our brooder!
Now, if spending money on chicken entertainment isn’t your thing, that’s no problem! Nature is full of “toys” that cost nothing. I have put little sticks, large logs, leaves, and produce from the garden in the coop which also provide a lot of entertainment for our girls! The secret is to switch it up every once in a while, so they don’t get bored. A tiny bit of effort on our part will go a long way with our flocks!
Until next time,
--The Wing Lady