Have you ever thought about how bored chickens might get in a coop or in a run without anything to do? It turns out that adding stimulating toys and features can actually provide many benefits for your hens' health and wellbeing, and this is scientifically studied and backed!
Chickens are smart and are often as curious as other animals are, so giving them something to play with and explore can make a huge difference in their lives.
Without any toys or activities, they can quickly become unhappy and even develop health or aggressions issues. By adding toys and chicken coop accessories, you can give your pet chickens a more engaging and fun environment that promotes exercise, good natural behaviors, socialization, and overall better health.
And there are other benefits of adding enrichment to your hens' lives as well.
The Research on Giving Your Chickens an Enriching Environment
There have been numerous studies on the benefits of adding environmentally enriching devices to a chicken coop and run, and how it benefits the chickens. The research is compelling.
Here is a paper from Science Direct titled "Use of dynamic and rewarding environmental enrichment to alleviate feather pecking in non-cage laying hens".
This study shows how researchers provided environmental enrichment to chickens (which they refer to as "EE" throughout the paper) such as pecking blocks, hanging toys, and perches, to groups of laying hens and then monitored their behavior for a period of 15 weeks.
The Results of the Study
The results showed that the hens with access to environmental enrichments, including the toys, exhibited less feather pecking and aggression towards their penmates.
The authors concluded that environmental enrichments, including the provision of toys, can help to reduce stress and aggression in laying hens, ultimately improving their welfare and productivity.
If you have a chance to read this paper, it is so interesting just how adding these devices can change the behaviors and lives of your hens in such beneficial ways!
Let's talk about these environmentally enriching devices you can add to your chicken coop so you and your backyard chickens can get the amazing benefits that come from a little bit happiness.
Chicken Coop Toys
Here are some of the best chicken toys you can add to your coop and run improve the life of your chickens.
1. Puzzle Feeders
This item is HIGHLY, highly recommended as it does more than just enrich the chickens' environment.
These types of chicken toys provide a challenge for chickens to work out how to access food, which can help to prevent boredom and encourage natural foraging behaviors, and the one we are recommending is top notch!
This feeder is a unique and innovative feeder that requires poultry to use their problem-solving skills in order to access their food. It is designed to only dispense small amounts of food at a time, preventing overeating and reducing food waste.
The feeder also features a treadle mechanism that requires chickens to step on a platform in order to access the feed. This means that the chickens must figure out how to use the feeder in order to get their food.
BONUS: This is a feeder that will prevent pests, such as rodents, from accessing the food as they will not be able to open it. You can even leave this in areas your chickens like to graze and put some treats in it and watch as they feed themselves and scratch and graze!
Read more about automatic chicken coop feeders and our top choices here
2. A Chicken Swing
This is one of the best chicken toys you can add to a chicken coop. Simply hanging a chicken swing up can provide a fun and engaging activity for chickens, while also encouraging balance and coordination (plus, the sheer entertainment of watching them swing is amazing lol).
The chicken swing we are recommending is a handmade wooden chicken swing designed specifically for chickens. The swing is made from natural materials, such as untreated wood and sisal rope, and is easy to install in any chicken coop or run.
The swing design allows chickens to perch and swing, helping to stimulate their natural instincts to perch and roost. In addition, using the swing can help to reduce stress in chickens, leading to a happier and healthier flock that won't be bored!
We also really like that this swing is handmade by woodworkers in the USA. Grab a few for inside the coop and for their run, these are a fantastic price.
3. Perches and Roosts
Chickens enjoy roosting and perching, so providing a variety of different heights and materials (such as branches or wooden dowels) can encourage exercise and provide mental stimulation.
Having different levels of perches is also great for chickens and younger chicks as they will also help their leg muscles develop and become strong and healthy!
We actually recommend in our article How To Keep Chickens Warm in the winter, having some self standing perches that you can put outside of your chicken coop in the colder weather and winter months. You can even secure some large branches for this purpose!
The reason for this is so your chickens can still venture outside in cold temperatures and have somewhere to stand up on if their feet get cold on the ground.
4. Chicken Mirrors
Chickens enjoy looking at themselves in a mirror (whether they think it is themselves or another chicken who is engaging with them), which can provide mental stimulation and entertainment as a toy.
Mirrors will also reflect light around and that will provide stimulation in itself and are great for hens or chicks.
When looking for a mirror toy for your flock, make sure to get one that will not break or shatter. You want to give chicken toys to your flock that won't cause harm or distress, and broken glass is a no no. Choose one that is actually made for birds and you should be good.
5. Treat Hangers
Hanging vegetables, such as cabbage or lettuce, can provide a fun and nutritious way for chickens to peck and play, and it provides healthy treats in the form of toys.
You can purchase chicken coop accessories like a vegetable hanger and hang pretty much any treats such as corn, apples and other treats for your hens, and they will love pecking at it.
It's a toy and a chicken treat dispenser for your pets or backyard flock and will be sure to keep your chickens entertained.
6. Dust Baths
Chickens need to regularly take dust baths in good dusting ingredients to keep their feathers clean and healthy, so providing a designated area with dry soil or sand can provide a natural opportunity for this necessary activity.
By providing them with their dust bath essentials, they will thank you, especially during the wet seasons where loose dirt may be hard to find.
This is more of a healthy activity you can provide your birds with rather than a toy; however, it will provide them with a good dose of both physical health and mental health as it will keep bugs away from their feathers and skin.
We recommend using a good agricultural rubber feed pan for this as they are super easy to clean, and you can dig a hole and place them in the dirt and fill them up without fear of them freezing to the ground. You can get one or several, and place around your run and in the area your chickens graze.
7. Treat Toy Balls
These foraging toys are designed to be pecked and played with, providing mental stimulation and reducing boredom in the chicken coop. These chicekn treat balls are also made of non-toxic, durable materials, ensuring that they are safe for chickens to play with and can withstand the wear and tear of being pecked over time.
Fill these toys with a healthy chicken treat such as leafy greens such as lettuce, other vegetables, or fruit! They will think of this as a yummy toy filled with the good stuff, and they are truly some of the best toys for chickens.
Overall, these are a great addition to any chicken coop and can help to keep your animals entertained and happy, plus, it is fun to watch them chase and pull those balls around!
8. Mirrored Balls
It is super popular right now to put a disco ball in the chicken coop. Why?
While a disco ball may not necessarily have any direct benefits for the health of your birds, it can provide entertainment and stimulation for both you and your feathered friends.
Chickens are naturally curious creatures and enjoy exploring new things in their environment. A disco ball can capture their attention and provide a unique visual stimulus that they may find intriguing.
It can also create a fun and quirky atmosphere in the chicken coop, which can be enjoyable for chicken keepers and visitors too! Ultimately, adding a disco ball to your chicken coop is more of a fun and decorative choice than a practical one, but it can certainly bring a bit of joy and whimsy to the space.
9. Mealworm Dispenser
Sometimes referred to as cricket tubes or foraging toys, these toys are made up of small compartments that can be filled with treats, encouraging chickens to work out how to access the food.
For this one specifically, you can fill with mealworms which are not only super good for chickens and help with egg production from the protein, but your birds will go crazy over these toys.
Birds love eating protein-rich insects such as mealworms.
10. Chicken Ramps or Ladders
Providing different levels and surfaces for chickens to climb on can encourage exercise.
We especially like the ramps that may feel uneven to the chicken as they walk across it as it helps that sense of balance and coordination they need to fly up to their roosts at night.
Plus, they look great if you are going for that chicken playground feel!
11. A Healthy Pecking Block
These are usually made from a mixture of grains and seeds and provide a nutritious and engaging way for chickens to peck and play.
The one we are recommending comes as a large block and contains oyster shell, seeds and grit to support egg shell quality and production, as well as digestion in your chickens.
It's a super yummy treat you can leave in your backyard barnyard for your chickens to peck and scratch at.
It will also help give your chickens the proper nutrients to help produce high quality eggs. This is a food that they will love.
12. Chicken Music
The last item we are recommending is the chicken xylophone. This item provides so much entertainment (for the chicken and the chicken owner!).
Children especially love watching chickens play music lol.
So as dust and debris gets on the xylophone which you can attach to any inside or outside wall, the chickens will naturally peck at it and make music! It's really a fantastic toy to add to your chicken coop and they will have fun pecking and playing with it.
And if you place it low enough, if you have young chicks they will be able to peck at it as well.
Conclusion: Chicken Toys
Having some chicken toys is a great way to keep your birds entertained and happy.
As a chicken owner, watching your birds push, pull, chew, chase and play with their toys can be quite entertaining and even comical at times. Plus, it's always rewarding to see your feathered friends happy and thriving.
So whether you're looking to add interesting ways to fee chickens, improve their mental health or just looking for some playing fun and entertainment, adding some toys to your chicken coop is definitely worth considering.
And there are so many ideas of items you can include as entertainment for feathered pets, as long as they are not breakable or dangerous for chickens or chicks, you should be good to go!
Getting high quality chicken toys that won't break down will ensure they last a long time and will be worry free, plus they will be around as your chickens grow older.
Here are some other chicken-related articles you may be interested in:
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