(BPT) - If you have backyard chickens, you understand that your feathered friends provide more than just a steady supply of fresh eggs. Backyard chickens become part of your family and giving them the best helps them to thrive. From nutritious food to enrichment activities like music and games, there’s a lot you can do to make your hens happy.
"Chickens are talented, productive and wildly entertaining," said Scott Schraufnagel, director at Hen Up Organic Food for Chickens. "Backyard hens are part of the family and provide endless joy. That’s why chicken owners are going above and beyond to give their hens the best.”
What can you do to make your hens extra happy? Schraufnagel shares three ideas:
Activities and enrichment
Chickens are known for their unique, endearing personalities. They are curious creatures that need mental and physical stimulation to thrive. Just like you would get bored with the same thing day in and day out, they get bored as well. That's why smart backyard chicken owners will take steps to keep chickens active and engaged.
Need ideas? Try expanding your free-range or run space. Add ladders, ramps, perches, stumps, scratch pads, swings and even a mirror. Add a pile of hay and watch them scratch and kick it flat. A sheltered dust bath space is like a spa for hens. Anything new or unusual will intrigue your chickens, so keep them guessing what's next.
Bonding through music
Did you know chickens enjoy music? Whether it's grooving to guitar, strutting to salsa or relaxing to reggae, play some outdoor music and spend time bonding with your flock. Crank tunes during backyard chores or simply play music when enjoying the day with your feathered friends. You may even notice certain hens have music they prefer, adding to their quirky personalities.
To celebrate how much chickens enjoy music, Hen Up presents Coopstock, the first annual backyard concerts for chickens and their owners. Backyard chicken enthusiasts across the country are hosting these events starting Sept. 12. They will feature live music, themed decorations and much more. Learn about the events and be inspired to cluck out your own jams by following along on Facebook or Instagram.
Food and treats
From freshly hatched chicks to egg-layin’ ladies, provide your flock with balanced nutrition including essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids that they need to live their best life. Hen Up makes organic, non-GMO food for chickens from ancient grains, superfoods and other ingredients you'll recognize.
Food also provides a great opportunity for nutritional enrichment activities. For example, place food in whiffle balls and watch as chickens roll and peck at it to get the delicious tidbits out. You can also sprinkle food in hay or a pile of leaves nontoxic to chickens so they can hunt for treats. Finally, hang a head of cabbage or lettuce from a rope covered in stiff tubing for a fun chicken piñata.
"A little extra effort can make a big difference for backyard chickens," said Schraufnagel. "They'll love these activities and you'll enjoy them, too."