If you’re keeping chicken for meat and eggs, you’re more focused on feeding them than keeping them entertained. But if your cockerels and hens are pets, DIY chicken toys are an affordable way to stop them from getting bored. Let’s look at some simple ones you can try.
DIY Chicken Toys
1. Floating Food
What do chickens like to eat? Most of us think of kitchen scraps, chicken feed pellets, or bugs. But if you watch free-range birds, you’ll see them pecking at grass and leaves as well, so they do enjoy their greens. That’s what makes this DIY chicken toy such a convenient option.
It keeps the birds stimulated, provides a handy snack, and ensures they have to work for it so they’re keeping fit as well! Just grab a cabbage or a head of lettuce, drill a hole through it, and string it up at a suitable height so your chickens can play as they eat. But don’t let it rot!
2. Chicken Playground
For lots of kids, recess is the best part of their school day, so you can take some inspiration from the playground for your DIY chicken toys. They’ll be excited to wake up every morning, exit their sleeping boxes, and work up a sweat in their permanent playpen! Try these ideas.
An old bicycle wheel makes a fun merry-go-round as they spin the spokes. Construct a jungle gym by nailing scraps of wood into a ladder or a split-level structure. For swings, use wood and string or hang an old rubber tire. Build a simple see-saw aka teeter-totter and paint it.
3. Chicken Swing
Chickens can’t fly, but they can get pretty high up when they want. They’ll launch themselves into the air and flap their wings, using their momentum and upward lift to elevate their birdy bodies. That can look a lot like flying, especially when they’re stressed, pissed, or threatened.
Luckily, you can give your birds a more pleasant way to get airborne with bird swings. They can sway and keep themselves calm and entertained. Making one is simple. Just get a stick that’s thick enough for their claws to grip. Attach it to a sturdy section of the coop’s roofing.
4. Dust Pit Chicken Spa
Kids love a sandpit, and chickens have their own variation. You might see them nestling in a pile of dirt and assume they’re hatching their eggs. But sometimes, they just want a dry bath to keep their feathers fluffy and fresh. The dust dries out excess moisture and deters pests.
To keep them preened and entertained, cordon off a section of their coop and fill it with loose dirt. A shady area is best, and you can erect a small roof to keep the rain out. But inspect the dust pit regularly to make sure it isn’t muddy or infested with pests. Change it out as needed.
5. Backyard Chicken Pool
You probably didn’t know that chickens can swim. But given their puffy bodies, it’s not a big surprise that they can be buoyant. And they enjoy it too, especially on balmy days. Give your hens a cozy spot to splash about using items that are lying around the house, like a big tub.
It can be a metallic trough or a plastic basin, just make sure it’s wide enough and has smooth edges. The chicken should have its neck out while sitting in the tub, to avoid drowning. You can add an umbrella. Change the water daily to prevent pests that breed in stagnant water.
6. Chicknic Table
Birds love to peck at things, and your free-range hens are likely to nibble off your plate if you let them. But it’s better to give them their own table, and it’s fairly simple to make. Think of a makeshift picnic set-up complete with a portable table and benches attached to each other.
For the tabletop, use a tray-like structure with the sides raised an inch or two. That way, you can load the tray with chicken feed. The birds will hop onto the benches so they can eat off their picnic table. Augment this DIY chicken toy by hanging cucumber tetherballs around it.
7. Hay Bale Play
Hay bales are among the cheapest chicken enrichment items you can find. You could swing by local farmer’s markets to grab one, or talk to a neighbor and ask them to supply you. It’s a DIY chicken toy that serves multiple functions so your backyard birds will love playing in it.
The bale may attract worms and bugs so it’s an organic scavenger hunt for birds to peck and explore. And the bales are sturdy enough for chickens to jump onto and perch on, so it provides additional exercise. When it starts to fall apart, you can convert it into bird bedding.
8. Chickabob String Toy
We always tell our kids not to play with their food. But for our fur babies, feathered friends, and tube kittens, an edible toy is ideal, especially if they can work out while they snack. We looked at a veggie tetherball that was basically a hanging pumpkin or a zucchini on a string.
You can also hang a plastic bottle full of seeds – we’ll show you how a bit later. But this idea is even easier. Just get some colorful fruits and vegetables, thread them through a string to make a kebab, and hang the string across the coop. Or use clothes pegs to attach the food.
9. Pecking Ball
As we mentioned earlier, many chickens enjoy foraging for greens. And you get extra points if you can get your birds to burn some calories as they hunt their veggies. This next toy can work for both caged and free-range chickens. You’ll need a see-through ball full of big holes.
It can be a plastic store-bought ball or you can coil one out of chicken wire. Stuff the ball with leaves, fruits, and veggies sliced into peck-sized pieces. Then hang the ball strategically on a sturdy mount. Use a tree branch, a fence post, or a roofing frame so the hens can’t tug it off.
10. Chicken Mirror
As far as we know, only orangutans and chimpanzees can recognize their reflections. For all other creatures, a mirror can be a fun toy because it makes them think they have a playmate. This works for human infants too, though some are aggressive and will beat the ‘other child’!
Roosters have a similar temper and will fight their alleged rival. This raises stress levels, so don’t go with that idea. But if you have docile hens, a mirror is a fun DIY chicken toy. Frame it to avoid sharp edges that may harm the chickens, and mount it firmly so it doesn’t drop.
11. Stumping Blocks
Although chickens can’t fly, they love to flex those powerful thigh muscles. And not just when they’re poking spurs or strutting! It’s fun to watch them springing onto higher perches that give them a better view of their domain. And it’s easy to add a few tree stumps to the coop.
You can grab broad-based stumps from a firewood pile or talk to a landscaper that’s clearing someone’s yard. Ensure the stumps are wide enough that they won’t tip when your birds land on them. As a bonus, the stumps may attract bugs that your chickens will enjoy snacking on.
12. Boredom Busters
Let’s check out these DIY chicken toy ideas from across the pond. Some are fairly familiar, like hanging leafy veggies on a string. You can also raid a junkyard or garage sale for some old outdoor furniture than can be repurposed as chicken perches. Move them around often.
This keeps the birds stimulated because they always have something new to discover. You can also construct mixed-height wooden structures to serve as a jungle gym for your birds. For the pecking pan, you can make a DIY version with the outer cover of an old portable fan.
13. Chicken Run
If you’re a scatter feeder – meaning you toss seeds and scraps into the coop at meal times – then you know chickens can run pretty fast. Their top speeds are about 14kph or 9mph. So a lengthy stretch where they can sprint undisturbed will make a delightful DIY chicken toy.
It’s similar to a rabbit run, but it has to be tall enough to allow clearance for your chicken’s head. It should also be sufficiently wide to avoid snagging their feathers. Use hardware cloth or fencing mesh – it’s more rigid than chicken wire. Bury the bottom to protect their claws.
14. Tire-based Toys
Wheels and tires are perfect starting points for DIY chicken toys. A bike or wheelchair with spokes can work as a merry-go-round. And a hollow tire makes a great frame for a dust bath. The bigger the better – just fill it with loose soil. Larger tires from tractors work effectively.
Apart from dust, you can pour water into tractor tires to make a chicken pool. For smaller tires, tie them onto ropes to make swings. Another swinging toy to experiment with? Cooked spaghetti draped over a horizontal frame. To your chickens, they look like hanging worms!
15. Rolling Snacks
This is one of the simplest DIY chicken toys you can make. And you don’t even have to buy any supplies! Simply look around the house for cardboard tubes. These include toilet rolls, pizza dough cans, Pringles cans, saran wrap tubes, paper towel rolls, etc. Ask the neighbors.
Thread a strong string or rope through the tube so you can mount it. Then slather the tube with peanut butter and scatter some seeds, cereals, or chicken feed onto the cardboard tube. Your chickens can then spend hours pecking and nibbling off their hanging tube of treats!
16. Chicken Obstacle Course
If your chickens are aggressive and territorial, a little bit of boot camp might be just what they need! And it’s a fun DIY chicken toy project if you have average woodworking skills and a few power tools. You can build ramps with steps for perching and ladders between levels.
Include hiding spots like tunnels made from hollowed-out logs or boxes with multiple openings. This gives the shyer members of your flock somewhere to go when they’re being harassed. The exertion of running around will work off the excess energy of the bird bullies.
17. Plastic Plaything
DIY chicken toys can be a great way to recycle your soft drink containers. This toy idea can technically work with cans but it’s more effective to use a transparent plastic bottle. The type used for sodas and bottled water. You’ll need the bottle cap as well so don’t throw that away.
Use a skewer, knitting needle, or pair of scissors to poke holes in the bottle. Fill it with seeds, then as the chickens roll the bottle around on the ground, the seeds will shake out for them to nibble. Or mount the bottle upside-down on a stick and as they peck it, the seeds fall out.
18. DIY Living Chicken Feeder
While this isn’t strictly a toy, this feeder forces your birds to work for their snacks. The plants growing beneath the grate will invite bugs that will keep your birds fed and entertained. And the natural manure from bird poop keeps these greens healthy and organic all year round.
Making the living feeder is easy. Just get some hardware cloth and chicken wire of the right size and fold it over a wooden block to get the desired depth. Secure it with a hook or hanger and include some colorful flowering herbs to help it attract the attention of your chickens.
19. DIY Chicken Bridge
A chicken ladder is fairly easy to construct. Just nail a few planks between two long fencing posts and you’re done. But if you’d like something a little more complex, construct a bridge. A plain rope bridge isn’t ideal because the chickens may struggle to perch on wobbly strands.
But you can cut identical wooden blocks and join them with heavy-duty rope. If you measure in advance, Home Depot or your local hardware store can cut the timber for you and drill the holes. Then you’ll just have to string the bits together and secure them to your mounting posts.
Do you have other ideas for DIY chicken toys? Show us how to make them in the comments!