I have a flock of 15 chickens, and in winter there isn't much for them to do. They are confined to a pen this time of year because I don't want some hungry coyote eating them for a snack. Normally, they free-range the garden plots in summer, but I feel bad because they seem to need an activity to keep them from being bored. Do you have any suggestions to keep them entertained?
Hen Lover in Ohio
ooooOOOOOooooo! Ms. Lizzy appreciates a thoughtful keeper of the flock! Not many folks out there are as in-tuned with their chickens as you seem to be! You get a 5 Star Rating from Ms. Lizzy! oooOOOOOooooo!
Extra sprinkles of cracked corn are a favorite around here. It's good for adding some fat to the diet - and assists in fueling the internal combustion chamber to warm us girly-birds! Some owners will attach a nice cabbage to a rope, and the gang can keep busy playing with that large green orb, swinging it back and forth as they try to snag a bite here and there. It's a great game, trust me - sort of like your Volleyball game, without a net! Another favorite snack is the meal-worm. You can raise them indoors in a box quite easily - they require little care - and are a tasty treat. Meal-worms can be bought at your local bait shop, too. Sprinkled around in the litter, the worms will attract hens by their movement, and once we realize they're available, some serious hunting will commence!
Another idea you may not have considered is the wood ash dust baths. 50% sifted wood ash to 50% fine sand makes a good bath for hens. Placed in an open litter pan, this offering will attract all of us girls, and helps rid us of mites and lice too! In addition, if you collect some of the cooled wood coals from your woodstove, you can attach them to a sturdy plant with zip ties, and there are vitamins in that coal which enhance the health and vitality of the chickens as they peck and ingest it! Wire cages filled with suet blocks give the girls something to do out of doors as well. Use your imagination, and perhaps you can comment with some suggestions that Ms. Lizzy has not listed here!
Love 'em and Don't Leave 'em bored,