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If you are new to the world of chickens, you may be wondering if chickens really need toys. The answer is yes, there are some really good reasons as to why you may want to invest in some toys for your beloved poultry. Keep reading to discover how chicken toys can be true boredom busters.
Chickens can be intelligent animals and therefore, giving them toys can help them to stay busy and help keep their minds active. Additionally, the use of chicken toys such as treat dispensers, mirrors and swings can help to remove negative behaviors such as excess pecking and bullying of other members of the flock.
If you want to have a happy, healthy and low stress flock, adding chicken toys can help a lot. Let’s learn more about the benefits of adding toys and what kinds might be best for your flock.
Why Do You Need Chicken Toys?
There are multiple reasons why chicken toys are an essential part to a healthy flock. Let’s review some of the top reasons why they are an important addition for your chickens.
Quite frankly, chickens are intelligent animals. Studies have shown that they have self-awareness, time perception and other markers of intelligent thought like humans and some mammals do.
Due to this fact, chickens can be prone to getting bored if they do not have enough things to do that are stimulating and entertaining. This can be especially true if your flock is in a smaller run and doesn’t have free ranging abilities.
Providing a variety of things to do so that they are interested, engaged and stay active will help your flocks minds engaged and prevent boredom.
Prevent pecking and bullying
Most chicken owners know that chickens have a pecking order. Unfortunately, if your flock doesn’t have other things to do, they can have a tendency to start excess pecking and bullying of their other flock members.
Another point when there might be excessive pecking and bullying within a flock is when you are introducing new chickens. So, adding some toys especially during this time will help to provide something else for them to pay attention to rather than just picking on the new flock members.
Stop egg eating
Egg eating is a naughty behavior that chickens sometimes start. Boredom is one reason that they may start eating their own eggs. Chickens may also eat their own eggs if the coop is crowded or if they are low on calcium.
Once they start egg eating, sometimes it can be really hard to break the habit. So, in addition to making sure your chickens have plenty of room and calcium be sure to provide toys for entertainment so that they don’t develop this bad habit.
DIY Chicken Toys
Just like anything else out there, you can totally do things yourself if you don’t want to spend the money. Here are some fun DIY chicken toy ideas.
Hanging cabbage for your chickens to peck at and eat is easy, quick and super cheap. All you need is a head of cabbage and some type of string or twine. You can hang it from the coop roof, from a tree branch or anywhere else with a little height that you can tie the string to.
A hanging cabbage will give your flock something to do for quite a bit a time. They really enjoy pecking at it and pulling bits off to eat. Not only does it give them something to do, it also is a good and nutritious treat for them.
If you don’t have cabbage, then use any other fruits and veggies you have on hand.
Dust baths a great thing to help with chicken health issues such as keeping chicken lice and mites at bay as well as helping them to stay cool in the summer. But, dust baths also give your chickens something to do.
All you need is some dirt or sand. Just pile it in a spot for your chickens to lay and roll around in. You can also add some DE to the dust bath for some extra benefits.
Put out branches or plants
This one is free. You can gather some branches, plants (perhaps some things you have pulled from your garden at the end of the season even) and add them to your chickens area.
Chickens enjoy having the places to climb on, in and through. It also gives some hiding and safe spots if you have new chickens in your flock or perhaps some bantam chickens that need spots to hide from predators.
Ice fruits or veggies in summer
Do you have fruits or veggies that are going bad or perhaps just more than you need from your garden? Throw the fruits or veggies in the freezer and then throw them out to the chickens.
Being frozen, it will take the chickens a bit more time for them to eat and it will also be a cool treat for them. The extra time it takes for them to peck at the frozen pieces will also keep them entertained.
Of course, you are not actually making your own mirror. So, if you don’t have an extra hand held mirror, you may need to consider this a toy to buy.
Mirrors are great, just a small hand held one that you can hang in their coop or run. You can even use a bigger mirror out in their run if you want (make sure it is completely secure though as you don’t want it to fall and crack or hurt your flock.
Buy Chicken Toys
Don’t have time to mess with making your own chicken toys? That’s where it comes in handy to buy your own toys. Throw them out to the chickens and watch your poultry stay busy and happy.
Hey, believe it or not, but chickens love to swing. Order a chicken swing for those chickens of yours!
Your flock can take turns (or even share a few chickens at a time) sitting on the swing. It gives them something to do to stay active and help pass the time.
Yes, you can also buy a chicken ladder for a chicken toy. Put this out and your chickens will spend time climbing on them.
Much like chickens like to roost, they also like to climb at times. Providing a chicken ladder can help keep them active. It is a smaller toy that is perfect for a coop and run that doesn’t have a ton of space – it gives your flock more room to move around and do things.
Chicken feeder toy
Stuck on what type of chicken toy to get your chickens? Grab this chicken feeder toy because your chickens will have fun for hours.
Not only does it dispense feed and treats which your chickens will love, it makes them work a little for it which will help them get their minds working. It also gets them active pecking the treat feeder around.
Swinging hanging mirror
If you want to get fancy and truly give your chickens something to play with, this swinging hanging mirror is awesome.
Studies have suggested that chickens do have some level of self-awareness. So, they sometimes do like to look into mirrors. This is another toy example that is good for low space requirements, but gives them something to do.
Peck n play toy
Chickens love to peck n play, but they need the right kind of toy to peck at. You can stuff a variety of different treats into this small ball.
One bonus feature for this toy is that it is dishwasher safe which means that you can easily keep it clean after it spends time being rolled around outside.
This is yet another treat toy. This one is for fruits and vegetables. They lock into the plastic ball. and they can peck and push it all around.
This treat ball is big enough to hold an entire head of lettuce or cabbage. So, it is perfect for a treat dispensing toy to use if you want multiple chickens to be able to use it at once.
Need something to hang those veggies from? Check out this vegetable hanger. It’s one of the best chicken boredom busters.
Perhaps you want something a little more sturdy than just some string to hand your cabbage, lettuce and other vegetables with. This vegetable hanger is made of stainless steel and so it is durable and sturdy.
Additionally, it is super easy to hang as it has metal hangers on the end of the stainless steel chain. So, you can pop it up in your coop or on a branch easily.
Chickens love to make a little noise, this xylophone is an awesome toy to get those chickens of yours. This can keep your flock busy for hours.
Once they discover that they can peck at the keys to make noise, they will love to keep playing. This is a great toy for keeping their minds active.
In conclusion, bored chickens can be unhealthy, unhappy and develop bad habits such as excessive pecking and egg eating. The best toys you can provide to your flock can range from treat dispensers to things to keep them active.
The toys that you decide on to add to your flock and coop will depend on how much space you have, how much you want to spend and what your flock set up is. Mirrors, hanging toys and ladders are great for areas that are smaller. Swings, rolling balls and other more active toys might be best set for areas that are a little larger.
No matter which toys you pick – whether they are complex or simple, purchased or DIY adding some type of toys for your flock is a great idea.