If you’ve ever owned chickens, you know that the people who label them feather brains have never owned or been around chickens themselves. In fact, these creatures are intelligent, curious, and love to explore the environment they live in.
This also means that you shouldn’t just purchase chickens and expect them to fend for themselves. Instead, you need to make sure that you enrich your chickens by giving them things to do and keeping them from getting bored. Bored chickens tend to be more aggressive and less healthy than active chickens.
If you’re unsure what to do for your chickens, we’ll give you some of the best DIY backyard chicken enrichment ideas we found in the list below.
The Top 4 DIY Backyard Chicken Enrichment Ideas
1. Nesting Boxes by BackYard Chickens
|Materials:||Wood, Nails, Carpeting|
These nesting boxes are perfect for keeping your chicken’s eggs safe until you can gather them. However, these boxes aren’t just for holding eggs. Chickens love hiding places, and this set of nesting boxes will have plenty of nooks and crannies for your chickens to hide.
You can even get creative with a maze of nesting boxes so that your chicken has plenty of space to explore. This is a great way to increase your chicken’s environmental enrichment. As for getting creative with the boxes, try turning a covered cat litter box, a climbing tree, or a cat house into a nesting box.
2. Perches & Ladders by Rural Sprout
|Materials:||10 tree branches of varying sizes|
|Tools:||Saw, rope, scissors, zip ties, drill, screws|
One of the most common forms of exercise for a chicken is perches and ladders. Chickens love perching on anything, and though you wouldn’t believe it, they will enjoy climbing the ladders also.
Chickens spend most of their time walking around pecking on the ground, but they can be taught to climb the ladders and sit on the perches. Try creating a jungle gym of perches and ladders with different heights and angles to encourage exercise. Make sure you offer some treats to your chickens to encourage them to climb the ladders the first few times, then they’ll start to do it on their own.
3. Feeding Puzzles by Chesire Horse
|Materials:||Nylon net, food|
Feeding puzzles are available from retailers, but you can build your own with just a nylon net, food, and a hanging hook. This is one of the easiest backyard enrichment ideas on our list. Normally, these types of puzzles are advertised for dogs and cats, but they work great for chickens as well.
Take your nylon bag and hide the treats for your chickens inside. Put it on a hanging hook, and direct your chickens to the bag. It won’t take long before your chickens are happily pecking away at the puzzles to get the treats inside.
4. Mirrors & Bells by Fresh Eggs daily
Mirrors and bells are usually reserved for small birds that live inside, but your chickens can enjoy them as well. You can take bells and hang them from your chicken’s pen or even let them roll around on the ground. However, it’s essential to make sure the bell isn’t small enough for your chicken to swallow because, as you probably already know, chickens will eat anything.
Mirrors are perfect for your chickens to admire their reflections in, and trust us, they will if given the chance. They also catch the light and set off flashes that will keep your chicken entranced and pecking at its own reflection for quite some time.
If you want your chickens to be healthy and non-aggressive, you need to provide them some enrichment, whether it’s with food, habitat modifications, or toys. The projects we detailed are more affordable than commercial options, and most of them take less than an hour to complete.
Featured Image Credit: EF Photography, Shutterstock