Try These Boredom Busters for Chickens and Ducks

by Tonya Staab
Published: Updated:

Do chickens and ducks get bored? If yours are kept in a pen like ours then they need to be entertained. Here are our favorite boredom busters for chickens and ducks.

I’ve often wondered if our flock gets bored throughout the day. At night I close them up in their coop to keep them safe from predators, but during the day they roam between the coop and the pen, which is fenced in. I would love to let them be free-range and wander all over our yard, however, we don’t have fences, and our neighbors have dogs and cats

Boredom busters for chickens and ducks

A lot of our boredom busters for the flock are seasonal, which is actually perfect because we are constantly rotating things with the change in seasons. I’ll share more of those shortly. Let’s start with the things that we have year-round.

One of the easiest things that I give them is grass and weeds from the garden. As I weed garden beds I throw any edible leaves, weeds, and grass in for them to peck through including the roots. Be careful though and make sure you are only giving them weeds that are safe for them to eat. I use the iNaturalist app on my phone to help me identify different weeds, then do a quick Google search to see if they are safe or not. They absolutely love dandelions.

DIY duck pond

boat pond in a chicken pen
An old fishing boat converted into a DIY duck pond.

I love the pretty colors of the water plants floating in the duck pond. Alas, they lasted about a week before the ducks realized just how tasty they were and they gobbled them all up. However, they do absolutely love this pond. We catch them swimming in the pond throughout the day and on warm summer nights they love to have a dip after dark before they head into the coop for the night.

We’ve heard that you shouldn’t have a deep body of water like this around chickens because they can drown. I’ve been very wary of this happening. They do love walking around the edge of the boat like it’s a balance beam. We made a ramp going up to the back of the boat for the ducks, but the chickens love to walk up it to have a drink too. The rooster loves to stand on the front of the boat to crow. It’s his favorite high spot in the pen.

a rooster standing on the front of a diy boat pond for ducks
Wilson, the Buff Orpington Rooster standing on the front of our boat pond.

Roosting perches

Aside from sitting around the edge of the pond, which they especially love on warm summer nights, we have several perches around the pen too.

a sapphire gem chicken on a roosting perch made of large tree branches
Our Sapphire Gem chicken standing on a perch made of large tree branches.

The perch pictured above is in the center of the pen because they can’t fly over the fence from there. They love getting the extra height though to look around. When the ground gets a little muddy they love perching up there too. This perch was made using large tree branches that we cut down from the back of our property where we are building a treehouse for the grandkids.

chickens sitting on a round diy roosting perch
Teenage Sapphire Gem chickens roosting on a homemade round perch.

These are our four sapphire gem girls when they were merely teenagers. They still use this fun perch that Mike built for them.

We also have branches through the corners of the pen that they love to roost on too.

buff orpington chicken and rooster on a branch roost in their pen
Our Buff Orpington rooster and hen standing on a branch perch in their pen.

Hang a mirror for chickens

I scored this mirror for $5 at one of our local thrift and antique stores. It was outside and had been there for some time so I knew it would be perfect to hang out in the pen for the girls to look at themselves. It’s been out there for about 6 months now and there is a small crack in the glass but they haven’t shattered it thankfully. If they do I’ll replace the glass with an unbreakable mirror sheet. The painted flowers around it are still completely intact too.

a sapphire gem chicken looking into a mirror
Our Sapphire Gem chicken looking at herself in a mirror.

Seasonal boredom busters for chickens and ducks

With the changing seasons, we find that the flock loves a lot of different things. They don’t like the snow and ice during winter so tend to stay in the coop during the days that are really bad. We put extra layers of straw into the nesting boxes and on the floor in the coop to keep them warm on those days and move food and water bowls inside for them too.

Fresh produce for chickens

chickens eating watermelon
Our Buff Orpington rooster and Sapphire Gem chickens eating watermelon.

We give our flock a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. During the spring and summer we grow zucchini and watermelon which they love, but we also give them a lot of our food scraps too. I keep a bowl on the container for when we peel carrots or cut the ends off strawberries for example and the next morning I give those to the flock. Here are some of their favorites:

  • Cabbage
  • Pumpkin – we roughly chop whole pumpkins and throw in the seeds and all
  • Berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
  • Watermelon
  • Squash – yellow squash, zucchini, cucuzza, and butternut
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn – they also love pecking through corn stalks in the fall
  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • We even occasionally give them leftover homemade french fries

This isn’t fresh produce, but they also love leftover cooked pasta, rice, noodles (without sauce), corn chips, and a little bread for a special treat.

Fall leaves for chickens

chickens and ducks foraging in fall leaves
Our chickens and ducks love foraging through the leaves.

We have a large maple tree hanging over the chicken pen. During fall the girls love the leaves falling into their pen; they gobble them up like we are feeding them treats. We have a huge leaf pile that we collect from around the yard too. When the weather turns particularly nasty and rainy the chickens and rooster really don’t like it when the pen gets muddy and despite the ducks’ protests (they love the mud) I shovel piles of leaves into the pen for them to scratch through.

I also put large branches that fall off the trees during heavy winds in there too (which you can see in the photo above). They love climbing through, over, and under the branches.

Bugs for chickens and ducks

cicada on a fence post
Chickens and ducks love to eat cicada shells.

Over the warmer summer months, cicadas and fireflies are everywhere at our house. The chickens have realized they don’t like eating fireflies, but they do love chasing them out of the pen. They do love eating cicada shells though. We find them all over our property and feed them to the chickens and ducks and they gobble them up like candy.

Sunflowers for chickens and ducks

sunflowers growing around a chicken pen
Beautiful sunflowers growing around a chicken pen fence.

We tried something new last summer and grew sunflowers along one fence of the pen. We made sure to put them on the outside of the pen though. They not only provided extra shade for the flock because they grew so tall but each week after they started dying I cut up one stalk with a flower head and seeds and put it in the pen for them to peck through.

Chickens eating sunflowers
Our rooster and chickens love to eat sunflowers.

Mud puddles for ducks

a black mama duck and her duckling playing in a mud puddle
Our mama and baby duck love playing in mud puddles.

The chickens don’t like mud puddles, but you better believe that the ducks go absolutely crazy for them. They love it when it rains and they get the whole pen to themselves because the chickens head into the coop. Over the warmer months though they love it when I make a mud puddle for them to play in.

More ideas for chicken and duck owners

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