Any ideas on toys for chickens?

Glenwood, IA

My poor chickens have been locked in for a few weeks now because of our horrible weather, and they are becoming increasingly more bored. I had to put plywood up on the walls to keep them from eating the foam insualtion, and now when I go in there they are just staring at eat other. Their run is 2 feet deep in snow...and I cant even get the gate open to shovel any of it out!

I thought about going to the pet store and getting a 'bag O crickets' to set loose in there. But, alas...I think they would only last for about 10 seconds.

Any ideas?

Woodsville, NH

I was told any fruit or veggies that rolls. Mine get apples pears grapes oranges whatever is on sale. I also put a bale of hay with one rope removed and they slowly but surely dismantle it. I also give mine salad, they LOVE spinach.

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

do a search in this forum for "boredom Balls" a dger makes em from different kinds of grains...

you also might throw some parakeet feed in there, they would spend a lot of time searching for those timy seeds...

good luck!

Lennox, SD

I just threw some scratch grain down today-I just love the sound the roos make, like an excited cluck, whenever there's something "new" to eat. LoraK-I love the fruit idea, had never even thought about apples/pears etc. I have given them tomatoes that they went crazy for, but I'm going to have to give the fruit a try.

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

somewhere is a site that lists what fruit NOT to give them, because of acids,tannins etc.

Lennox, SD

Ooh, I better look for that one. I know there has been a discussion on here somewhere about bananas...some fed them and never had problems, others had heard bad things about bananas. I just threw some over ripe ones away tonight...I was too leary to try giving it to my chickens.

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

i lost years of research when my hard drive crashed because i didn't print out my favorites folder, who'd uh thunk it? it was probably on an edu site...

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

here is an article, but not what i was looking for:

http://poultryone.com/articles/feedinghens.html

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

http://www.poultryhelp.com/toxicplants.html

i'm done, baby woke up...

Lennox, SD

Heehee, thanks TamaraFaye :) I know the feeling, I have a 6 year old, 4 year old, and 20 month old coughing tonight. And me....ugh!

Antrim, NH

Hi there all.

Apples are great, as are heads of lettuce, bread ends, spaghetti, and just about anything from the fridge. They also like mushed up hard boiled eggs. You could make little chicken cookies out of grain and seeds and eggs and bake them so that they are hard to give the girls something to do.

We have a conversation about what to feed and not feed chickens every few months. Here is my little soapbox on feeding chickens stuff (ahem)
Chickens are scavengers. I have never seen chickens eat things that are bad for them. ( Mine don't even eat broccoli ~ smart girls! Then I have to eat it!!) Seriously, though, they are pretty smart about it. I have fed mine bananas with no ill effects, etc. I think that chickens know what to eat and what not to eat. ( Within reason of course ~I mean, a huge cup of antifreeze and rat poison are probably not a good idea.) Chickens are designed to eat just about anything and live to tell the tale, plus, there are all sorts of feral chickens in warmer climates and if they were that delicate of eaters they would all die.

Have fun out there in snow land. We've got the same troubles here. :)

Glenwood, IA

Thanks for all the advice! I asked my other halfs little brother (he is 12) what he thought chickens might like to play with. He suggested dipping ping pong balls in molasis (sp), and rolling them in birdseed...then letting them dry hard and hanging them from string in the coop. I thought he was a little genious. I want to find ways to keep them occupied for as long as possible...so this could work. I will try the apples and pears too, but the way my birds eat...they wont last more then 15 seconds or so. :)

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

Brilliant!

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

I take heads of lettuce or cabbage that I get on the discount rack. Then I shove an apple correr or a piece of pvc pipe through the center to thread a piece of rope through. Hang it just above their heads in the coop. They spend hours pecking and jumping. You can also string any left over fruit or big veggies this way. I also toss a couple books of hay in their yard to get them going outside in the fresh air.

Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

Jylgaskin - that is a great idea! My chickens like hay and straw to pick through, looking for bugs. They also love spinach and salad greens.
When it's really, really cold, I've been making them a huge bowl of oatmeal with birdseed and molasses and cornmeal it in. I have no idea if it is good for them or not, but they love it, especially my big Rooster, Rocky.

The guineas prefer white millet. We lost a lot of tree branches in the ice storm last week, so I have pulled some of those into the pen for the guineas to play on - and they eat the buds off the branches, too.

I've let my birds out all day the last couple of days, as the ice is mostly gone and the snow mostly melted - they have a great time, and follow me around when I'm working in the barn. One bad thing, 2 of my 4 hens have started laying their eggs in places other than their nest boxes since it's been nice enough for them to range. Any ideas on how to get them back to using their nest boxes? I pull a bale of hay from the stack for my horses, and I find an egg!

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

The oatmeal mix would be perfect for chickens. If it gets really cold I make hot ceral with lots of sweet and fats for mine. They almost purr.

I've never figgured out how to keep chickens laying where they are supposed to. When I pulled out the christmas stuff in the shed this year, two green eggs rolled out. It's like they are outside playing and go 'OOOH, OOOH, OOOH, I have to lay and egg!" and then they just plop it in the nearest place. I guess that's why God made them lay eggs instead of giving live birth. They would be dropping chicks all over the place and forgetting where. Maybe diapers......

belmont county, OH

hi beth!
i have same problem with my hens hiding their eggs all over, it is not fun to find a treasure trove of frozen eggs in the hay mow! with mine it is always the same girls hiding them, in particular the lighter breeds like the lakenvelders, white faced black spanish and some of the domickers. I don't really have an answer for that question i just have one of my own for you- how do your guineas and chickens get along, especially when you have to keep them penned up for a time? i only have 6 adult guineas and about 30 hens but those guineas really push around the hens, also the rooster (that part i think is funny though). Do your do that or is it just mine who are extra argumentative?

Lennox, SD

HeeHee, funny images :)

Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

Mabecca, hi!

I have 10 guineas and 5 chickens in the pen - plus one bantam polish rooster in my garage-

The guineas and chickens seem to get along just fine. They roost together in my chicken coop and when they are ranging, they tend to be kinda close to the chickens. The guineas are a little more adventurous when there is ice and snow on the ground, but we had a couple of days where no one would even leave the coop, it was so cold and awful!

You have a lot more birds than I do! I want to get some more chickens in the spring. Maybe more guineas. The guineas all hatched last August, I think I'll incubate eggs again for them, but for hens, I guess I better order chicks.

Thumbnail by beth_donovan
Nova, OH(Zone 5b)

Hey, okay this might sound silly but can you eat guinea eggs? I assume they are not as large as chicken eggs.(?) I know you can eat duck and quail eggs so I didn't think there was a difference. What about turkey eggs?

I'm thinking of getting some guineas to guard my garden. Can I train them to go to a coop and lay their eggs there too?

Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

I am not sure about training them to lay their eggs in a coop, but mine are certainly trained to find their way back to the coop at sunset. Their eggs are edible, mine have not laid any eggs as yet, I'm not sure how old they have to be before they do that.
Get the book called Gardening with Guineas - it's great!

Nova, OH(Zone 5b)

Thank you!

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

guinea eggs are deliciuos, esp great for ice cream or egg nog [i hear] mine always lay their eggs in thje tall grasses, but the book tells how to trrain them.

our leghorns lay out some too, esp when my boys close them out of the hen house when they have their gooats out! we just hunt for them, regularly so they don't get a big nest started.

i love all these ideasd, nice3 to know i am not the only one to spoil my chickens, did you know they love chopped garlic? add it to their water, also prevents buildup of yucky stuff in the water...

Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi, Tamara - how old were your guineas before they started laying?
Also, does the garlic affect the taste of the eggs? Gosh, it could be a new thang - garlic flavored eggs! Great for cooking!

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

i salso told my customres the eggs were pre-seasoned. but even once a monthe when i gave them mugwort or any other parastie preventative, no-one, including me, could taste a difference, they are just always good!

i never got a guinea egg, so i can't answer that. when i say tall grass i mean taller then me, and i don't care/dare to venture out into it!

the chickens and guineas munch on winter onions too. i keep small wire baskets over the plants in the poultry garden so they don't dig up the plants. they eat them down, they grow back. they ate my chocolate mint to the ground before i got it covered, but it grew back. they never cared to bother the hyssop or mugwort or sweet annie, but love the lambsquarters. esp the ducks and geese love to forage on weed seeds, so i let them grow...

Glenwood, IA

It took us a long time to get our chickens to lay eggs in their nesting boxes. As of now I think it has been several weeks since we have had one laid anywhere but. We started with putting one golf ball in each box. The chickens naturally want to build a clutch, and like to lay where other hens do. Then we locked them in until they used them. After that we woudl only keep them until until each hen had laid her egg (by around noon). Slowly moved them every other day to see if they woudl go back to lay. Occassionally we would find one nesting the garage or elsewhere and had to carry her back before the egg came out!

Anyway...this worked for us. If we do happen to have day where some girl doesnt do as she is supposed to...they are all punished by being kept in the following day until all eggs have been laid. I think the habit is what you need to create. If you let them get away with laying one outside once..then they will probably try to do it day after day. Good luck!

Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

Thank you, mcamden. I think that is a great idea, I'll try it.

Wellington, New Zealand

Thank you also mcamden Im going to give it a try... ;)
I found a clutch of 30 eggs yesterday LOL and I wasn't sure what the best action to take was.... To be honest I thought the girls had gone off the lay but clearly I was wrong LOL... Im so glad I found this website I've spent the past 3 hours reading and learning so much as I've only had hen for 3 months... Very glad I don't have to worry about raptors etc...

Glenwood, IA

nzgirl,

Depending on how many hens you have you can determine about how long those eggs have been sitting out there. An egg can sit for about 4 weeks or more undisturbed and still have the chance to grow. The chick wont start to develope until a hen starts to sit. You could try to move them into the henhouse and see if someone is interested...or else I would just throw them out.

Certainly try the golf balls or fake eggs and let me know how it works for you. It took some time to get ours going...but we never find stray eggs anymore.

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