Preventing Chicken Boredom

  1. GPS1504
    It is winter. It is cold. There is snow on the ground in much of the United States. People are trapped inside and bored out of their minds, going more and more stir crazy with each (frozen) passing day. If we are experiencing this, then how are our chickens feeling? With many of them being restricted to their coops and unable to peck around outside, surely they, too, are feeling restless. What do we humans do when we are restless? We find something to occupy our time such as a book or a movie. What do we do to placate our dogs when they get bored? Give them a Kong full of delicious but hard to reach snacks that will entertain them for quite some time. If only there were a Kong for chickens...

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    Bored chickens need entertainment just like the rest of us, and since there you cannot exactly placate your chickens with a dog Kong, you are going to have to buy a similar type of device or engineer your own chicken entertainment center. You want to afford your chickens with an opportunity to focus their energy and perhaps get a little reward out of the deal. What is more rewarding than a little food and fun on a cold day? Not much if you ask me!

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    While looking around the house for ideas, I noticed a drawer full of skewers for kababs. Instantly it occurred to me what a perfect idea it was to make kabobs with chicken snacks on them. Most fruits and vegetables acceptable for chicken feeding will fit on a skewer, plus skewers are one complete piece that will not break apart into harmful, smaller pieces that can accidentally be consumed. My skewers also have a ring at one end, making them perfect for hanging. Just file down the pointed end to dull it, slide some treats on a skewer, and you're good to go!

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    Once you have your snack skewer ready, hang in in your coop where it will be at chicken level but will not actually touch the ground. The object is for it to swing, making it harder to eat and thus more work/entertainment for your chickens. A swinging apple is consumed much more slowly than an apple that cannot move and evade hungry beaks.

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    The swinging snack can be done in many ways; the skewer is just something that was handy around here. You can suspend fruits and vegetables by other means as well, just so long as your chickens have to work to get items. If you are not feeling all that ingenuous, you can even buy hanging food dispensers that move (such as a corn trapper or a chicken treat ball) or stuff treats into a suet box. Whichever method you choose, your chickens are sure to be happy-and busy-for hours.

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