Winter weather can present a challenge for chicken keepers and their flock. Whenever chickens are being cooped up, boredom and behavioral problems can become an issue. Feather picking and egg-eating can be a result of the behavioral problems that arise. By having go-to busters, chickens can be kept occupied and entertained during the brutally cold months.
Chickens aren’t the most complex creatures. They are pretty easily entertained. Of course, treats help keep them occupied. However, too many treats aren’t good for them, so you’ll also need non-food ideas.
** Chickens are suspicious of all new things. Implement changes at a normal, steady pace. Too many environmental changes at once might cause undue stress. **
Bird’s Eye View
Chickens have a natural instinct to roost and perch up off the ground. You can use boards, branches, ladders, tree stumps, furniture, or any variety of things to create a multi-leveled chicken jungle gym.
P.S. Don’t recycle that Christmas Tree until the chickens have had a chance to use it as a gym.
Dust bathing is how chickens care for their skin and feathers. The access to do this during winter months is not great. Set up an area for dust-bathing by filling a kiddie pool, shallow stock tank or feed pan with dirt fortified with diatomaceous earth for your chickens to still have the option to bathe during the winter months.
Piles (Hay, Straw or Leaves)
Chickens are not a fan of piles! By incorporating a bale or pile of leaves, straw or hay in their coop or run, it will bring hours of entertainment. Watch as they scratch and peck while searching for insects, seeds and other hidden goodies until the pile is flattened.
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Have you tried putting a mirror in your coop or run?
Chickens have a great time looking at themselves. Be sure it is well secured so that it cannot fall or break. The girls tend to shove each other around as they each need time to check themselves out.
Chickens love to swing. Adding a chicken swing to your coop will add amusement to their day and help combat boredom.
It is important for your flock to still get exercise even in the colder months. They are reluctant to walk on snow and ice, but you can shovel them a path. To make the path more amusing for them try throwing down straw, hay, or pine needles. And as always, you can add even more entertainment by throwing in a handful of cracked corn, sunflower seeds, or scratch grains.
Winter can be a terribly boring season, but it doesn’t have to be!