If you own a backyard flock of chickens, you need to get them some toys to play with. While not everyone thinks about a chicken’s need for stimulation, enrichment toys are actually extremely beneficial to chickens and help them stay busy and keep physically and mentally active.
Below, we’ll share some more information about why chickens need toys and which toys are best for your chickens. To learn more, read on!
If you’ve never owned chickens or are new to raising chickens, you may be wondering why chickens need toys anyways. Just like cats and dogs, chickens are intelligent and curious creatures that benefit from mental stimulation.
If they don’t have enough stimulation, your chickens can become bored and turn to destructive or harmful behavior. Examples of this behavior include:
- Fighting with each other
- Plucking feathers (from themselves and others)
Offering toys to your chickens can prevent them from turning to these harmful behaviors.
In addition to this, offering your chickens toys can help keep them healthy and active. Chickens need exercise just like other animals, so offering toys can encourage them to move around and keep them strong. This provides your chickens with a better quality of life, which can result in more eggs throughout their lives.
1. Hanging Chicken Toys
Hanging toys for chickens are a popular way to provide enrichment for chickens in a coop or pen. These toys can include things like swings, ladders, and balls, and are meant to stimulate chickens mentally and physically.
They can also take the form of various objects such as bells, balls, or blocks that are suspended from the ceiling or walls of the coop. Your chickens can peck, claw or play with the toys, depending on the types of toys they have.
Many commercial hanging toys for chickens are available, but you can also make your own with materials like PVC pipe, rope, and other items. It’s important to ensure that the toys are safe for chickens to use and that they are hung securely.
Additionally, you may want to rotate the toys to keep the chickens interested. If they get used to the toys, they may become bored with them over time.
2. Foraging Chicken Toys
Foraging toys for chickens are toys that mimic the natural foraging behavior of chickens. These toys typically require you to hide food or treats inside a container or among a bed of straw or other materials. This encourages chickens to use their natural instincts to search for food and provides them with a sense of accomplishment when they find a treat.
There are lots of different foraging toys out there. Some examples include treat balls or rollers that dispense food when rolled around, foraging boxes filled with hay and treats, or edible loofah streamers, or a hanging toy that has treats inside. These toys can also be made affordably at home with simple materials such as cardboard boxes and paper towel tubes.
Foraging toys can also be a great way to provide chickens with a more varied diet, as they can be filled with different types of food or treats. Consider corn kernels or other small vegetables, for example. However, this should not replace a regular nutritious diet for your chickens.
3. Climbing Chicken Toys
Climbing toys provide chickens with the opportunity to climb and explore their environment. Examples of climbing toys include rope ladders, wooden blocks, perch ladders, or climbing walls. They are often used to provide chickens with an area to explore and exercise, which can help to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
These toys can also be used to create different levels in the coop, which can help to make the space feel larger and more interesting to your chickens. For example, a climbing wall or ladder can be used to create a second level in the coop, providing chickens with a new area to explore and rest.
It’s important to note that climbing toys should be made with materials that are safe and non-toxic for chickens, and should be regularly checked and maintained to ensure they are in good condition. You never want your chickens to use a climbing toy that is loose, unstable, or broken.
You should also keep in mind that your chickens’ climbing toys are designed in a way that is easy for them to use and not too high or hard to reach, as your chickens might get injured if it is too difficult for them.
4. Swinging Chicken Toys
Chicken swings are a specific type of hanging toy that let chickens swing and play. Chicken swings can be made of different materials, but all have the same basic structure.
Some examples of homemade chicken swings include a wooden board with a rope attached for the chickens to perch on, or a hanging wicker basket for the chickens to sit in. They are often used to give chickens an extra area to relax and play, which helps reduce stress and keep them entertained.
Chicken swings can be easily installed by hanging them from the ceiling or a tree branch. They also don’t take up too much space, so can easily fit in small chicken coops.
Always make sure that any materials you use to build your chicken swings are safe for your chickens and that the swings are securely attached to a ceiling or branch. You don’t want them to be loose enough to fall or too high for your chickens to reach, as this could result in accidental injury.
Believe it or not, mirrors actually make great chicken enrichment toys. Chickens have a natural inclination to establish a social hierarchy and interact with other chickens. They are also extremely social and can get lonely easily.
Mirrors can provide your chickens with the visual stimulation of seeing other chickens, which can help to reduce stress and provide a sense of companionship for chickens that are kept alone or in small groups.
Mirrors can also provide your chickens with the opportunity to express their natural behavior, such as preening, displaying, and even mating behavior more clearly. For example, a mirror can stimulate a rooster’s natural behavior to court a hen, as he may think the reflection is another rooster or a hen.
Additionally, mirrors can also be used to provide your chickens with a greater sense of space, making their habitat feel larger and more interesting. Some people even use mirrors to increase the amount of natural light in a coop, which can also be beneficial for your chickens’ health.
However, it’s important to note that mirrors should be placed in a safe location and out of the reach of chickens, as they may become injured if they peck the mirror or knock it over. Some chickens may also see their own reflection as a threat, so you should monitor your chickens around a mirror before leaving them alone with one.
There are a lot of different toy options that you can provide to your chickens. Remember that chickens can have their preferences much like cats and dogs do, so give them a variety of toys to choose from. Before you know it, you’ll have a happy, healthy flock in your yard.