Toys for tots? Definitely! Toys for dogs and cats – well, of course. (Just not too squeaky, please.) But toys for chickens? You bet your beak! Or theirs anyway.
After paying hundreds or more to establish your backyard brood, perhaps you’re reluctant to, ahem, shell out any more money. Ah, but maybe you don’t know the benefits of having toys for your feathered friends.
Benefits of Toys for Chickens
In addition to busting boredom. They are cooped up quite a bit, aren’t they? — the right toys can provide important physical exercise, nutrition, keep their nails and beaks sharp, and even stimulate their impressive bird brains.
After all, those little ladies are among the brightest in the barnyard. According to a number of research studies, they experience boredom, frustration, and happiness, among other emotions – and are capable of self-control and even performing simple math!
Most breeders say that without the proper mental and physical stimulation toys can help provide, chickens are more inclined to eat eggs, bully and peck one another and even – yikes — resort to cannibalism.
And, at the very least, a few chicken toys will definitely provide some fun for the both of you.
10 Great Toys You Can Buy for Your Chickens
Here’s a countdown that includes some of our favorites. But be careful to avoid those made with glue, paint, or anything toxic that could harm your girls:
10. Hanging Feeders. Some kinda look like shower caddies that hold people shampoo and such. But hanging feeders seem functional. You can load them with veggies and fruit for snacking. What they lack in bells and whistles to the human eye, however, could very well inspire excitement among your hens.
9. Hanging Bells. If you want color and bells — sorry, no whistles — then the Loofah Hang Bells Chewing Toy might be for you. These are made 100 percent non-toxic with a natural loofah and food coloring.
8. Treat Skewers. Put another shrimp on the barbie? Sure – and while you’re at it, put another couple pieces of fruit on this Treat Skewer so your chickens can have some tasty fun. This food holder not only stimulates natural foraging, and gathering behavior, but it is a great source of entertainment for your birds.
7. Treat Baskets. Similar to a suet holder for woodpeckers and other birds, a hanging Treat Basket like this one is sure to please your ladies. And if you run out of veggies to fill it with, they also offer treat squares made with sunflower seeds and mealworms.
6. Chicken Perches. This triangular chicken perch is for baby girls. It does provide good roosting practice and leg exercise since the dowels are uneven. Another brand actually has mirrors as well so they can see for themselves just how adorable they are. Both have a top bar that helps sharpen chicks’ nails and are small enough to fit into less spacious accommodations. This one is made of plastic and is best for very young chicks and when placed against something to keep it from tipping over.
5. Chicken Ladders. Also in the roosting category: Chicken Ladders. With bright colors and sturdy design, this one surely will make your coop pop!
4. Chicken Swings. Give your girls the ride of their lives with none other than the Chicken Swing. This particular version is made with care. It’s made of natural wood, rope, and wood beads. And it has no toxins, so it’s safe for your chickens to peck at all they want. Another option here is very similar to a branch.
3. Chicken Ropes. Let your ladies practice their high wire act with a chicken rope. At this point we have our own little chicken obstacle course!
2. Chicken “Soccer.” With live sporting events shut down due to the “pandemic,” the next best thing may be chicken soccer-inspired by these roly-poly type items. When your girls’ peck and scratch correctly, this round feeder toy rewards them with treats you place inside. Some people mention it might come apart too easily, but I never had any problems with it.
1) The Peck N Play Chicken Ball Toy has a bell inside to add to the fun, but some users say it’s a challenge stuffing food through the small openings.
A variation on this concept is the chicken roller, a green and yellow cylindrical-shaped device that dispenses treats as it’s pecked and rolled.
Behold, also the Chick-N-Veggie Ball. The package says it all: “Fun Rolling Way to Supply a Treat Buffet.” Simply insert a head of lettuce into the plastic ball frame and away your girls go. Or, hang it from somewhere sturdy in your coop and let them peck at its orb-like goodness.
Now for Number One…
And drum roll please! The Number One chicken toy – in our humble opinion: the Chicken Piano. OK, so it’s more like a xylophone than a piano. But with a little coaxing – as is food rewards for their efforts — there’s a good chance at least one of your girls will learn to make semi-sweet music. This one comes with two chains for hanging, as well as grinding stone.
The Best 8 Toys You Can Make
If you’re still stumped about how you’ll be able to afford to buy your chickens toys after spending big bucks to raise them in the first place, no worries! You can create and build some of your own.
And frankly, we prefer to use things we build anyway – they may not be fancy, but at least we know what they are made of.
Not long ago, we placed four big pieces of a Shag Bark Hickory Tree in a circle campfire-style in our girls’ run. It took a little while, but we discovered our Barred Rocks love standing on them. Plus, if you move the logs/stumps every week or two, they can enjoy the earthworms or other bugs that decide to live underneath. Along the same lines, we put small pieces of stump inside our chicks’ tub and they would routinely sit or stand on them. Price: Free.
Dust Bath Delight
Frankly, I never thought of a dust bath as a“toy” for chickens, but when they’ve flapped and snuggled themselves into some nice dry dirt, they seem about as relaxed and happy as can be.
Of course, dust baths are the way they stay clean and kill mites, parasites, and other tiny harmful varmints.
Compost Pile Paradise
Who would have thought leaves and table scraps could provide so much fun? But not only do our girls love scratching and foraging through the compost pile we created near their run, but their sharp claws also break down the material at an exponential rate for use in our garden.
During our first try, our compost pile was enclosed on all four sides and about three feet high. But even though it was located inside their run, they never jumped or flew inside. The second version did the trick: It’s open on one side, so they can stroll right in and have a scratching good time.
DIY Chicken Ladder
Our so-called Large Barn Coop came with some small ladders designed to let the girls climb to their nesting boxes. For some reason, they never seemed to take to them. But we removed one and attached it with a zip tie to the little girls’ roosting pole – and now they’re learning how to navigate their new toy. It wouldn’t take much thought or effort to build a small one like ours out of a 4 foot 1×2 and some wood screws. Our first coop came with an old wooden ladder the ladies would climb to get to their roosting poles, so if you’ve got one, you might consider how to safely incorporate into your coop.
Hanging Vegetables or Fruit
We made the name up to describe a piece of fruit or produce hanging from a rope in their coop. But some folks will simply tie an ear of corn on a fishing line and hang it in an appropriate spot. Others use a corkscrew secured to a rope or bungee cord to hold the treat in place. Your Vertical Veg-Orama will provide hours of nutritious enjoyment – or more likely, minutes, since you know how fast they can eat!
You can also string veggies and fruits on a fishing string or wire to create a delicious garden garland for your gals.
Got a plastic water bottle handy? Certified professional bird trainer Kenny Coogan suggests poking some holes in it, filling it with mealworms, and hanging it from a rope in their coop. “This will encourage birds to peck at the bottle and scratch the ground underneath,” Coogan wrote.
Steele’s Branch Swing
Here’s how you build it. First grab a branch around 1-2 ft long. Drill a hole in either side of it. Put some rope through the holes you have drilled and knot them so they don’t come out the other side. On the other end of the rope just attach a carabiner and hang your swing wherever you would like. A very easy project that’s worth it in the long run.
You could also simply secure a solid branch or broom handle in one corner of their run for some additional perching pleasure. Just don’t put it too high.
Wiffle Ball Banquet
Stuff an inexpensive Wiffle ball with some treats. This will encourage your chickens to peck and play with the ball while being rewarded with delicious treats. Such an easy inexpensive toy!
Many chicken owners marvel at how their backyard divas enjoy looking at themselves in mirrors. Melissa Caughey of TillysNest.com describes how she found a shatterproof handheld doll dress-up mirror at a craft store and eventually mounted it in her coop for the gals to enjoy. With all the pecking that’s bound to occur, shatterproof is the way to go.
Charming Wind Chimes
If you have a forgotten set of wind chimes lying around, you might be able to put them to use entertaining your chickens. Before rushing out and hanging them in the coop, however, you’ll just need to make sure they aren’t painted, contain any toxic material, and can’t fall apart from all that potential pecking.
There are so many different types of chicken toys out there. You can simply go online and ship some to your house or spend an afternoon creating a chicken theme park. Either way, it is important to keep your chickens entertained. And who knows, maybe your chicken will learn how to play the piano in the process!
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Doodle Board!!