Keeping Your Chickens Happy and Busy: Ideas for Your Run.

Keeping Your Chickens Happy and Busy: Ideas for Your Run.

As a chicken owner, one of the main concerns is to keep the birds happy and busy in their run. Chickens that are bored and have nothing to do can easily become agitated and start pecking at each other, which can lead to serious health problems. Therefore, it’s important to provide a stimulating environment for them to explore and keep busy. In this article, I will share some ideas and examples of what other chicken owners put inside their runs to keep their feathered friends entertained and happy. From natural elements like plants and branches to fun toys and treats, there are plenty of ways to keep your chickens occupied and content.

Dust Bath

Dust bathing is one of the most important behaviors for chickens. It’s a natural way for them to keep their feathers clean, remove excess oil from their skin, and prevent parasites. Providing a designated area for your chickens to dust bathe in their run is essential to their health and well-being.

Creating a dust bath is simple and easy. You can use a large container like a tire or a plastic tub and fill it with sand, dirt, wood ash, and diatomaceous earth. The sand and dirt provide a good base for the bath, while the wood ash and diatomaceous earth help to keep parasites at bay. Chickens will naturally start digging, rolling, and flapping their wings in the mixture.

It’s important to note that chickens will use the dust bath frequently, and the mixture will get dirty over time. Therefore, it’s necessary to replace the mixture periodically to maintain its effectiveness. You can also add herbs like lavender or mint to the mixture to provide a natural scent that can help repel insects.

Plants and Weeds

Adding a variety of plants and weeds in your chicken run can be a great way to keep your chickens active and entertained. Apart from providing them with a natural environment, plants and weeds can also be a source of essential nutrients for your flock. Not only do they enjoy scratching around in them, but they also love to nibble on the leaves and stems.

Some plants are known to have medicinal properties, such as comfrey, which is rich in calcium, potassium, and other minerals. Dandelions are also a great source of nutrition and are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Chickens also love clover, which is a good source of protein and vitamins.

Allowing some weeds to grow tall and wild can also be beneficial for your flock. Chickens love to hide and play in the tall weeds, which can provide them with an excellent source of entertainment. The weeds also attract insects, which your chickens can forage on.

To create a natural environment in your chicken run, you can plant a variety of plants, herbs, and weeds. Choose plants that are safe for chickens, such as sunflowers, which provide seeds that your chickens can eat. You can also grow herbs like oregano, which have antibacterial properties and can help prevent illnesses in your flock.

Toys and Swings

Just like humans, chickens enjoy having fun too! Keeping them entertained is essential to their well-being. Chickens are naturally curious and playful creatures, so providing them with toys and swings is a great way to keep them busy and stimulated.

One of the most popular chicken toys is a large parrot toy. These colorful and interactive toys are perfect for chickens as they can peck, pick, and pull at them. They also love pecking blocks, which are made of compressed seeds, grains, and other natural ingredients. These blocks are designed to hang from the coop or run, allowing the chickens to peck at them whenever they feel like it.

A disco ball is another fun addition to any chicken run. Chickens are naturally attracted to shiny objects, and a disco ball provides a lot of entertainment for them. They’ll peck at it, chase it, and try to catch the reflections it creates.

I also built swings and ladders inside my chicken run using wood and rope. Chickens love to climb and perch, so these additions provide them with a lot of fun and exercise. Watching them climb, swing, and play is always entertaining.

Food on a Stick

Feeding chickens can be a fun and creative experience, especially when you can watch them enjoy their food in different ways. One of the ways I like to give my chickens a treat is by putting some fruits or vegetables on a stick. This method not only provides a fun challenge for the chickens, but it also offers them essential vitamins and minerals that they need to thrive.

To make a food on a stick treat, I use a bamboo skewer or a stick that is sturdy and clean. Then, I impale some apple slices, cucumber slices, or grapes on it, depending on what I have available. The colorful and sweet fruits and vegetables are attractive to the chickens, and they start pecking and picking at them eagerly.

Once I have the food on the stick, I stick it in the ground, so the chickens can have easy access to it. Watching them play and peck at the treats is a delightful experience. They will often take turns or try to steal the stick from each other, making it an interactive and stimulating activity.

In addition to being a fun and healthy treat, food on a stick can also help prevent boredom in the coop. When chickens get bored, they can become restless, aggressive, or even start pecking at each other. Offering them a variety of treats, like food on a stick, can keep them entertained and content.

Cabbage on a Rope

Hanging a cabbage on a rope is not only a fun activity for chickens but also a nutritious one. Cabbages are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, which are essential for a chicken’s health.

To make a cabbage on a rope, I start by coring a head of cabbage and then stringing it through a rope. I tie the rope to the top of the run, making sure it’s securely attached. When I hang the cabbage, the chickens will jump and peck at it, trying to get bits and pieces of it.

They’ll also stretch their necks and flap their wings, which is good exercise for them. The cabbage will last for a few days, and I’ll replace it when it’s been mostly eaten or when it starts to spoil. It’s a simple and cost-effective way to provide my chickens with a fun and healthy treat.

Frozen Veggies

During the hot summer months, chickens can get dehydrated quickly, just like any other animal. To keep my chickens cool and hydrated, I like to give them frozen veggies. It’s a simple and fun treat that provides them with essential vitamins and minerals.

To make frozen veggies, I choose some of their favorite vegetables like peas, corn, or carrot pieces, and I put them in an ice tray. Then, I fill the tray with water and freeze it overnight.

The next day, I pop the veggie ice cubes out of the tray and throw them into the run. As soon as my chickens see the frozen treats, they start pecking and chasing them around, which also provides them with some exercise. It’s a great way to keep my chickens happy and healthy during the hot summer months.

Natural Materials

Chickens are naturally curious creatures and love to explore their environment. Providing them with natural materials to peck at and play with is a great way to keep them entertained and healthy. One of the easiest ways to do this is by creating piles of leaves, pine needles, and even weeds for them to scratch and forage in. Chickens love to pick through these natural materials, finding insects and small seeds to eat.

In addition to these piles, I also like to leave some branches and stumps inside the run. These natural perches provide the chickens with a place to roost and jump from, which helps to keep them active and stimulated. Rocks and pebbles can also be added to the run for the chickens to peck at, as they provide a source of grit, which helps with digestion.


In conclusion, keeping chickens happy and busy in their run is an important part of being a responsible chicken owner. By providing a variety of natural and man-made elements, such as plants, branches, toys, and treats, you can create an engaging and stimulating environment for your chickens.

Not only will this help prevent boredom and aggression among the birds, but it will also contribute to their overall health and well-being.

So get creative, experiment with different ideas, and see what works best for your flock. With a little effort and ingenuity, you can create a happy and thriving community of chickens in your backyard.

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About James Polystead

I grew up on a small farm. My parents used to grow food and keep animals for our sustenance. They would sell the surplus to make an extra coin to supplement the income from their jobs. I am taking the same path. I have over 40 chickens for eggs and meat. I also grow vegetables in my backyard. follow me on Twitter

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