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 6 DIY Backyard Chicken Enrichment Plans
1. 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.
2. Dig Boxes and Dust Baths
|Materials:||Litter box, loose dirt, wood ash, organic nesting melody|
Dig boxes and dust baths are great ways to keep your chickens cool, calm, and parasite free. Chickens love to dig, and they love a good dust bath as well. This dust bath is simple to make with a large litter box and some loose dirt. You’ll also want to add a little organic nesting melody to make your chicken coop smell fresh.
The great thing about this enrichment is that it entertains your chickens, keeps them parasite free, and is so simple to make that you don’t even need any tools. Just purchase your litter box, pour and mix, then wait for the chickens to play. Sometimes, it can take a while for the chickens to notice the dust bath; however, you can add treats to the box so your chickens will jump and dig around to find them.
3. Chicken Boredom Buster Toy by Natural Chicken Keeping
|Materials:||Small round bottle (seasonal Coke bottle), stick, scratch, dry feed|
This chicken boredom buster toy is the perfect solution to your chicken’s boredom. While most people can’t imagine that chickens can become bored, those of us who have chickens know that they do. This is a simple toy to make and takes only a small round bottle, a stick, and a bit of scratch or dry feed added to the bottle when you’re done.
The toy doesn’t have to be perfect, as all you’ll do is throw it into the chicken yard when it’s done. Toss it in, then sit back and watch the chickens peck away.
4. Adorable Chicken Swing by Attainable Sustainable
|Tools:||Saw, drill, drill bit, measuring tape, scissors, a pair of hands to help|
This adorable chicken swing looks like something you’d see in a Winnie the Pooh episode, with a couple of chickens swinging the afternoon away in Rabbit’s front yard. Believe it or not, your chickens will love this swing as much as your kids love the swing you built for them.
This chicken-sized swing is pretty easy to build and adorable as can be when it’s completed. However, you will need an extra set of hands when hanging the swing, so make sure you have a friend around to help with the assembly.
5. Chicken Ladder
|Materials:||Scrap lumber, screws|
Sometimes all it takes is a simple chicken ladder to keep your chickens entertained and happy. This one only requires scrap lumber, screws, and a table saw to build. It’s a moderately difficult task but can be done if you know your way around a table saw.
Your chickens will love climbing the rungs, and the size you make can be determined by how many chickens you have in your run. Chickens love to climb, and the ladder will keep them entertained and physically fit.
6. Chicknic Table by Creative Green Living
|Materials:||Plywood, boards, fasteners, or screws|
|Tools:||Saw, wood glue, measuring tape, clamps, speed square, mouse sander, drill|
The Chicknic Table is by far the most difficult to design on our list. However, it’ll serve a double function. Your chickens can eat from the trough and climb around on the benches. This is the perfect enrichment toy, as it’s functional and can fit more than a few chickens at one time.
There are a couple of ways you can build the table, as you’ll see from the instructions. You can use screws or nails, depending on your preference. Once you’ve completed the job, sit back and watch your chickens eat and have a ball.
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