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Ideas for Toys and Activities to Entertain Your Pet Chickens

Updated on March 15, 2017
AlishaV profile image

I am an online writer with a love for animals. I've been a member of many sites including eHow, Xomba, Helium, and now HubPages.

Hen Jumping for Treats
Hen Jumping for Treats | Source

Why Toys for Chickens?

Chickens need entertainment so that they won't cause trouble. Like all animals, they can get bored and develop bad habits if left unoccupied. Not all chickens can be allowed to free range, but even free-range chickens crave fun activities to do. Luckily, chicken toys are all around you, waiting to be used for lots of fowl fun. It's also entertaining for us to watch them play.

General Tips

  • Chickens are curious and interested in the world around them, but the main things that will catch their attention are food and shiny things.
  • It's important to realize that birds are not like dogs, so they aren't likely to do things simply to please you. Nor are they like cats that will chase after most anything.
  • Food is the main driving force for chickens. Toys that involve eating are going to be the most popular, and therefore, the most useful.
  • Even chicken scratch can be used as a toy if it's tossed in their bedding or in a compost pile where they can dig around for it. This can be a dual purpose activity: the chickens have fun looking for the bits of corn and grain, and they're also mixing the compost or bedding for you.
  • Even when playing with the birds in a way that doesn't directly involve food, you can make them interested by giving them a treat for doing what they're supposed to.
  • Rewarding them for pecking at a piano key will quickly make them realize that pecking on the piano will get them food.
  • Chickens are not the smartest animals. Be willing to work with them and be patient while waiting for them to figure things out.

Source

Play Safely

It's important to remember that moderation is key. Don't force your chickens to perform all the time to get their treats. Once a week or twice a week for non-strenuous activities is good, but you don't want to stress your birds.

Physical Activity

It's not good for chickens to constantly run, jump, and chase stuff. Too much jumping can negatively affect a hen's laying. Making a heavy bird jump too high too often can also lead to leg problems. Make sure they're going to have a safe surface to play on. A heavily pitted area should not be used for jumping or running, and a slick surface can be dangerous as well.

Being Fair

Squabbling can break out if there is too much competition and some of the chickens don't ever get treats. Flocks will often compete anyway, but if it crosses the line into overly-aggressive behavior, you will need to make an effort to play with everyone equally or play with only half the flock at a time so everyone has a chance.

Just use common sense and everyone can have safe and rewarding fun.

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Cabbage as a chicken toy.Lettuce tetherball is fun too!
Cabbage as a chicken toy.
Cabbage as a chicken toy.
Lettuce tetherball is fun too!
Lettuce tetherball is fun too!

Ideas for Toys Made of Fruits and Veggies

Most fruits and vegetables make great toys, especially ones that roll. Almost all fruits and vegetables are safe for chickens to eat, with the exceptions of potato peels, onions, and avocados.

  • Hang a head of cabbage from a rope so they can jump up and rip off pieces.
  • Get their attention and then throw a piece of fruit, such as a peach, across the yard so they can run over there and eat it.
  • Toss small items like berries and green beans into their bedding so they have to dig through it to find the treats.
  • Roll peas across a flat hard surface, such as a patio, so the chickens can race to get them.
  • Pack an old rotting log with banana.
  • Place frozen peas into a small kong-type toy that you'd normally use for a dog. Then show the chickens that if they roll it around the peas will fall out.
  • Hang leaves of lettuce from a clothesline.
  • Toss small pieces of fruits and vegetables into the air so the chickens can jump and grab them.
  • A pumpkin or other squash broken open in the yard is fun for them to dig through. It also naturally attracts worms. Once they are used to broken squash, you can place whole ones in the yard for them to peck at.
  • Cut a watermelon in half. It rolls as they try to eat it. You can also cut it into rings and tie them up so the chickens have to work to get at them. Frozen cubes work great here too.
  • If you have a bag of frozen cranberries, roll the bright, shiny berries all over the ground for them to chase.
  • Dangle a cucumber with a rope through it so they can jump up, peck at it, and eat it.
  • String several harder fruits and vegetables onto a rope and tie both ends up to make a shish kebab for your chickens.

Baked Goods Toy Ideas for Chickens

Leftover baked goods or ones you make specifically for your flock can be a lot of fun. Just be cautious because bread that is too soft can be a choking hazard.

  • Baked, hard rolls roll really well and are fun for the chickens to chase.
  • Throw hard rolls and the chickens will play fetch, but don't expect them to bring anything back to you.
  • A loaf of french bread threaded onto a rope and hung from the ceiling makes a fun target to jump and rip bites off of.
  • Small rolls studded on their fence are great for them to peck at.
  • Bagels and non-frosted donuts are good to hang around the coop. You can also hang them from the ceiling or roll them across the ground.
  • Bake some cookies to hang around the yard. A simple batter such as that for biscuits or cookies without sugar works well. Incorporate some peanut butter, seeds, and grains and bake until cooked through. If you cut holes in the middle before cooking, they'll be easier to hang.

Hen chasing tossed treats.
Hen chasing tossed treats.

Other Food Toys for Chickens

Bread and fruit are not the only food items that make good chicken toys. There are all sorts of items you might have in your kitchen that they might enjoy.

  • You can spread chunky peanut butter on items around the yard, such as rotting logs, to give the chickens something to peck at. Peanut butter also provides them with extra protein.
  • You can spread cooked rice on rotting logs as well.
  • Cooked pasta, depending on the shape, can be hung in low bushes for the chickens to jump and peck at.
  • Roll hard boiled eggs across the lawn for them to chase and tear up.
  • Pour yogurt into a bag and poke a small hole in it. Then hang it up to let the yogurt drip. The chickens will try to catch each drip that falls to the ground. You can do the same thing with a punctured milk carton.
  • Meaty bones are fun for the chickens to clean up. They can also drag them around the coop when playing keep-away.
  • Sprouts are a special favorite. Scatter them across the coop bedding for a game of hide-and-seek.
  • You can spread cornmeal, oatmeal, or grits on logs for the chickens to scrape off. They will enjoy pecking at the food in all the little nooks and crannies.
  • You can string cereal, like Cheerios, and hang them in the coop or on the fence line. You can also scatter it around for them to find.
  • Roll a pine cone in peanut butter and then dip it in bird seed. Hang the pine cone in a place where the birds can peck the goodies off.
  • Make suet out of used cooking grease, seeds, and peanut butter. Hang it for them to jump at.
  • Freeze some larger treats inside a block of ice. It's a great way for chickens to cool off on a hot day.

Chickens looking for scattered treats.
Chickens looking for scattered treats. | Source

Re-Purposed Kiddie Toys for Chickens

Often, baby and toddler toys make great toys for chickens. The bright colors and interesting textures and noises are designed to attract.

  • Shiny, kid safe mirrors can interest the birds for a while. Make sure that they won't attack it hard enough to break it.
  • You can coat plastic rings of keys with peanut butter and toss them to the flock, or hang them from a low spot for the birds to peck at.
  • Set up plastic kiddie gyms for the chickens to play with. Wrap some kind of food around it for lots of entertainment.
  • For something a little more challenging, stack colored donut rings, and then hide something in the middle for them to find.
  • Chickens also like wind-up and walking toys.
  • You can keep the birds occupied by tossing a lightweight ball into their pen for kicking around.

Turkey Racing

The moment I saw this at our state fair, I felt I had to do it for my flock of chickens, turkeys, peafowl, and guineas. What you need to do is fill the bed of a remote-control truck with scratch and release the birds. You then put the pedal-to-the-metal (in this case, put the joystick-to-the-plastic) and away they all go! Can you picture an entire flock of chickens chasing down a toy truck?

Other Ideas for Chicken Toys

Think outside the box when it comes to chicken entertainment. What do your chickens like to do? What makes them happy? Here are some other fun ideas.

  • Hang a sunflower in the coop.
  • Give them parrot toys.
  • Scatter insects and bugs, such as worms and crickets, in their coop for them to chase.
  • Old CDs cast interesting patterns on the ground when the sun reflects off of them, and they also move in the wind.
  • Sprays of millet hung about the coop are fun for jumping and grabbing, and then chasing if they manage to get a spray loose.
  • Give them a chunk of sod with the dirt and roots attached. They will dig and scrape through it looking for little tidbits.
  • A rotten wood log stuffed with whatever you have available makes a fun toy that will keep your chickens occupied for hours.
  • Let your chickens play around in a pile of fallen leaves by hiding bugs and other yummies in it.
  • Take a handful of weeds that are safe for the chickens to eat and tie them up for the birds to jump at. You can also just toss them over the fence.
  • A suet cage stuffed with whatever treats are handy makes a nice little piñata.
  • Take so plastic Easter eggs and poke holes in them. Then fill them with seeds and roll them around. The seeds will fall out as the chickens chase them. You can also use a sturdy container, such as a plastic tub or coffee can with holes poked in it.
  • Cricket tubes (tubes designed to release only one cricket at a time) will give the chickens hours of entertainment as they wait for each of the yummy creatures to venture forth.
  • Layer some bird seeds in between sheets of newspaper, so the birds have to work to get it out.
  • Put tree stumps in their area for the chickens to sit on top of. A good view makes a world of difference.
  • Perches inside their pen will make the chickens happier as well. Remember to change them up occasionally. A different view makes the same old area into a different world.
  • Find a nice large branch with several branches coming off of it. Then stand it up inside their yard. They'll love to perch on the branches, so make sure it's sturdy.
  • Put some sand in a box for them to use as a dustbath.

I would rake up the leaves, he would jump in the middle to try to find bugs.
I would rake up the leaves, he would jump in the middle to try to find bugs. | Source

What's Your Favorite Chicken Toy?

What do you think of the ideas on this page? Are going to try some of these ideas? Do you already give your chickens toys? Share an opinion, a recommendation, or a story in the reader feedback section below.

© 2009 Alisha Vargas

Reader Feedback

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    • profile image

      Paige 2 months ago

      I love my chickins ducks roosters Guin rooster and silky hen they are the best free rang animals I have ever had

    • profile image

      sam 4 months ago

      love chickens

    • profile image

      Jess 5 months ago

      Really interesting, had no idea about most of these ideas. I tried the cabbage idea but our weren't a fan, I might squish some peanut butter & seeds around it & give that a try... Thanx for the whole article & for everyone's comments. Love the videos, hilarious!

    • My Kitchen profile image

      My Kitchen 2 years ago

      I really liked your ideas esp the one of old cd and plastic easter egg.

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Never thought of giving the chickens toys when I had some in the backyard. They did have the run of the yard though, so had plenty to do.

    • SusanAston profile image

      SusanAston 4 years ago

      I had no idea chickens liked toys.

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      I think the best toy for a chicken is a grasshopper.

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image

      BuckHawkcenter 4 years ago

      My darling little chicken just loves her half head of cabbage when I tuck some seed down in it. She has a blast "digging" out the seeds. Cute ideas for chicken toys.

    • profile image

      Kentishmaid 4 years ago

      Exactly what I wanted. Enrichment ideas for chickens. Thanks

    • profile image

      PrairieGhost 4 years ago

      This is a great list, but I would advise against the hard-boiled egg enrichment object if you are keeping hens for laying purposes. While it's perfectly safe and even advisable to feed crushed eggshell and scrambled eggs to your birds, feeding them something that is still in the shape and appearance of an egg will encourage them to eat their own when they lay them, and you'll end up with no eggs for yourself. If you're just keeping the birds for meat or as pets, it's not a problem.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing! That was very helpful to me. Hurricane Sandy will be arriving in a day and the chickens will not be happy in their coop for an extended amount of time so your ideas will definitely keep them busy! Thanks again!

    • profile image

      Limmey 4 years ago

      Great lens

    • BackyardChickenK profile image

      BackyardChickenK 4 years ago

      Nice lens! You've got some fun creative ideas for keeping chickens entertained and stimulated :)

    • profile image

      Margot_C 4 years ago

      I haven't seen or heard chickens for a long time, but this brought back memories of visiting my grandparents farm.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 4 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      I had chickens many years ago but never thought about giving them toys to play with. If I had chickens today, I would definitely give them some of the toys you mentioned on this great lens. I really like the photos of your chickens playing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks. I did the lettuce hanging from a string and it was a big hit with my hens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i love the cabbage idea! and my chicken loves it too!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great ideas! I love chickens, you have beautiful birds.

    • hartworks lm profile image

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      A mirror is a superb toy for a chicken who has to be alone for some reason. Ours hung out right by it!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      how about a hanging bell???

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Must do all of this for my chickens starting today!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This really helped me to entertain my baby chicks. They love all the fun toys!

    • profile image

      brynimagire 5 years ago

      Great resources listed! Blessed and liked.

    • Rosaquid profile image

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      I sent a link to this lens to my chicken-raising neighbor. Thanks for the fun info!

    • kristine100 profile image

      kristine100 5 years ago

      I got a chuckle when I read the title of your lens. It brought me back to a teenager in South Africa and a pet chicken I had. He would jump on my shoulder and stay there as I walked around the yard. Then I would put him on the ground and point out insects for him to eat and he diligently ate them all up. Unfortunately, I was not around one day and he was became a meal for someone. Made a great little pet tho - surprised me how personable he was.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you this has been so very very helpful!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The first persons answer was good. If you can't find the ball he is talking about you can try wrapping string around some cabbage or some fruit and hang it up. When they peck at it, it will swing make one a little high so they have to jump. They also like the color red, an apple would be good.

    • skefflingecho profile image

      skefflingecho 5 years ago from Tobermory Ontario

      Hah! Someone after my own heart! Love this lens and am squid angel blessing it! Great sensible ideas. My girls jump for leftover pancakes and waffles!! The hanging cabbage is great in the winter and I grow lots of cabbages just for my chickens. They will eat hanging Brussel's sprouts and kale too in the dead of winter, but the cabbage lasts the longest!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Check out our new chicken toy at http://www.loveyourchicken.co!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I found only one toy after searching for a very long time! My chickens love it, its called a chicken ball they get to play and eat at the same time. I found it on this website eggcartons.com. Here is the exact link though.

      http://www.eggcartons.com/Treat-Ball-Chicken-Toy/p...

    • profile image

      MustangHistory 5 years ago

      Nice lens.

    • profile image

      MustangHistory 5 years ago

      These were sweet.

    • profile image

      MustangHistory 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • profile image

      MustangHistory 5 years ago

      I had chickens as a kid.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      what a great site and great ideas. I will definitely try some of these.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great site. My chickens are definitely going to get some toys!

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      We love this lens! My chickens are only 7 weeks old and just moved into their new coop. (I have a lens about them). Since reading this lens, my chickens are definitely going to be getting some toys. What fun!

    • puerdycat lm profile image

      puerdycat lm 6 years ago

      Love it! The cabbage made me laugh out loud!

    • profile image

      Squidoo_Queen 6 years ago

      Love this lens! My chicks love the greens hung up around their coup. I've lenrolled this to my chicken lens :)

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 6 years ago from New York City

      Few things I like better than smart articles that respect animals for the unique creatures they are. Nice. I stumbled it. Hope it draws some readers for you.

    • profile image

      HighMaintenanceFarmWife 6 years ago

      Oh goodness, I never thought these ordinary things could be toys! They peck at all the apples and plums that fall from our trees but only a few pecks out of each one. It never occurred to me this could be the chicken version of a game! Mine adore spaghetti and suet, too. Even the shy ones will race to take suet out of my hands. I make cornbread for them on occasion and peanut butter sandwiches. A couple have me trained to turn over rocks and bricks to look for earthworms but I guess that would be me being trained by them. And grubs! Oh do they come running for them, hens and roosters all trying to grab the ones I dig up. Gardening with them is always a challenge because they'll stick their heads right under the shovel or hoe to grab one.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Our house chicken LOVES to help crochet. By "help" we mean "peck and footy-dig the fabric/yarn ball." When we leave her alone for more than an hour, I leave her any one of several DENSELY crocheted bits of fabric as a footy toy. I make and give her different colors for stimulation. She loves the variegated yarn ones. She also loves a pile of folded laundry--she will kick and pick through a stack of it until it's in a nice rounded pile. Then I refold it, and she starts over. In our long rainy winters, we keep a box of mossy twigs, wood chips, and the like for her to poke through. She is also very fond of socks, and gets our old wool ones that are past repairing. She will dig and peck and scratch at them, and sometimes nestle down next to one.

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from Covington, LA

      Cute ideas. My hens help we weed the flower beds. They come running as soon as they see me pull a weed. The sow bugs and centipedes scatter, but none can hide from my 3 girls and they have lots of nutritious fun. Your lens has been featured on Angel of Farmyard Animals blessings.

    • profile image

      Murphypig 6 years ago

      I'll definitely use some of those ideas once I got my resuce hens :-). thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great ideas to entertain my chickens and turkeys.

    • SubtleMoon profile image

      SubtleMoon 6 years ago

      Yes, I agree, chickens need enrichment activities. Great Lens.

    • EmmaCooper LM profile image

      EmmaCooper LM 6 years ago

      Cool :) We like to give our chickens a litter tray full of dry compost when the weather is wet - it gives them a nice dry dust bath, which they really appreciate and will use for hours.

    • LarryCoffey LM profile image

      LarryCoffey LM 7 years ago

      Toys for tweets! How cool!