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Home / The Grubs Times / Hen House Fun: Enrichment Ideas to Keep Your Chickens Happy
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Hen House Fun: Enrichment Ideas to Keep Your Chickens Happy

Raising chickens isn’t just about gathering fresh eggs; it’s also about ensuring your feathered friends are living their best lives. Happy hens are not only more productive but also healthier. One of the keys to happy chickens is providing them with enriching activities to keep them entertained and stimulated. Here are some creative and simple ways to bring a bit of fun into your hen house.

Why Chicken Enrichment Matters

Before diving into the ideas, let’s talk about why enrichment is crucial. Chickens are naturally curious and active animals. In the wild, they spend a lot of their day foraging, exploring, and interacting with their environment. When kept in a backyard setting, they can get bored and stressed if they don’t have enough to do. Boredom can lead to negative behaviors like feather pecking or egg-eating. By providing enrichment, you can keep their minds and bodies engaged, resulting in a happier, healthier flock.

Foraging Fun

Foraging is one of the most natural behaviors for chickens. Encouraging them to scratch and peck for their food can be both entertaining and mentally stimulating.

Scatter Feeding

Instead of giving your chickens their food in a bowl, scatter it around their run. This mimics the natural foraging behavior and makes them work a bit for their food. You can scatter scratch grains, seeds, or even small pieces of fruits and vegetables. Just be mindful not to overfeed and clean up any leftovers to avoid attracting pests.

Treat Toys

Create or buy treat toys that dispense food slowly. A simple DIY option is to take a plastic bottle, poke a few holes in it, and fill it with scratch grains or mealworms. As the chickens peck and roll the bottle, the treats will fall out. This not only keeps them busy but also provides a little workout.

Perches and Platforms

Chickens love to perch. Providing various levels and types of perches can give them a place to rest, observe, and feel secure. Plus, it adds vertical space to their environment, making it more interesting.

Natural Branches

Adding natural branches of different heights and thicknesses can create a fun and engaging environment. Chickens enjoy hopping from perch to perch, and it mimics their natural habitat. Make sure the branches are sturdy and safe for your chickens to perch on.

Multi-Level Platforms

Consider building or adding multi-level platforms or a small chicken jungle gym in their run. This not only gives them a place to perch but also encourages climbing and exploring. Platforms can be made from wooden pallets, sturdy boxes, or other safe materials.

Dust Bathing Spots

Dust bathing is an essential behavior for chickens as it helps them keep their feathers clean and free of parasites. Providing a designated dust bath area can be a great way to enrich their environment.

DIY Dust Bath

Create a dust bath area using a shallow container or dig a shallow pit in the ground. Fill it with a mix of fine sand, soil, and a bit of diatomaceous earth. Chickens will love rolling around and fluffing up their feathers. Make sure to place it in a dry, sunny spot where it won’t get too muddy.

Enclosed Bath Houses

If you have the space, consider building a small covered area for dust bathing. This keeps the dust bath dry and usable year-round. You can use an old sandbox or create a small wooden structure with a roof.

Interactive Toys and Objects

Adding toys and interactive objects to your chicken run can provide endless entertainment. Chickens are naturally curious and will enjoy exploring and playing with new items.

Hanging Treats

Hang vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, or corn on the cob just out of reach. Chickens will enjoy pecking at them, which provides both a treat and a bit of exercise. You can use a simple string or a specially designed hanging feeder.

Mirrors and Shiny Objects

Chickens can be fascinated by their reflections and shiny objects. Safely place a mirror or hang some reflective CDs in their run. Watching them interact with their reflections can be amusing and keeps them engaged.

Balls and Objects to Peck At

Provide balls or small objects they can peck and push around. Chickens may not play soccer, but they do enjoy investigating and moving things with their beaks and feet. You can use large rubber balls, plastic bottles, or even old dog toys.

Garden and Greenery

Introducing plants and garden elements into your chicken run can provide shade, food, and enrichment. Chickens love to explore and peck at greenery.

Edible Plants

Planting edible greens like clover, lettuce, or herbs around the edge of the run can give chickens something to nibble on. Just make sure the plants are safe for chickens and that they don’t completely destroy them. Protecting the plants with a wire mesh can allow them to grow while chickens enjoy the occasional peck.

Chicken-Friendly Gardens

Create a chicken-friendly garden area where they can roam and forage. Include a variety of plants, paths, and digging spots. This can be a part of their run or a separate area where they can be supervised while exploring.

Seasonal Enrichment

Changing up the enrichment activities based on the seasons can keep things fresh and interesting for your chickens.

Summer Fun

In the heat of summer, provide cool treats like frozen fruits or a shallow pool for wading. These can help them stay cool and provide a bit of fun.

Winter Activities

In the colder months, give them extra straw or hay to scratch and peck at. You can also hang up small toys or treats to keep them entertained when they are spending more time inside.

Social Interaction and Bonding

Chickens are social animals, and interaction with their flockmates and humans can be very enriching.

Flock Social Time

Encourage social interaction among your chickens. Provide enough space for them to move around and establish their pecking order peacefully. Watch for any signs of bullying and address them promptly by providing more space or distractions.

Human Interaction

Spending time with your chickens can be incredibly rewarding for both you and them. Talk to them, hand-feed treats, and gently handle them. They’ll become more accustomed to you and look forward to your visits.


Keeping your chickens happy and entertained doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. With a bit of creativity and a few simple additions to their environment, you can provide plenty of enrichment to keep your flock engaged and healthy. Remember, a stimulated chicken is a happy chicken, and happy chickens are a joy to have in your backyard. So go ahead, introduce some fun into your hen house and enjoy watching your chickens thrive.


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