Enrichment is a buzz word when keeping animals. Gone are the days where it was sufficient to provide shelter, food and water – to keep our animals mentally happy, they need something to keep them occupied!
Chickens are pretty much on the go most of the time. If you watch them free range, they are usually scratching around and pecking while they are foraging. However, when they are in the run, the food is provided in feeders (no need to forage!) so adding a few props in the run is a good idea. Adding some different levels for your birds to hop onto are a simple way of providing interest. I use an old stool and a mounting block, as they are easily cleaned, but an upturned bucket or a log, or large branch would be fine. They are also good for hens lower down the pecking order as they have somewhere to escape to.
I chanced upon the Feathers and Beaky Veg Holder as I was looking for something to hang up some greens for the flock to peck at. Throwing them on the floor meant they would get soiled and trod on so I thought this was a smart and convenient way to provide treats for the chickens. My item was £13.13 from Ebay and came from a store, Pets Perfect in north Yorkshire. The price of this veg holder varied on Ebay – up to £25.00, so shop carefully!
The conical metal spring holder is bigger than some designs I have seen on the market and stretchy to accommodate larger items. The red plastic top which is easily opened to stuff the holder with leaves. Because the gaps in the holder are fairly wide, the leaves need to be big, so cabbage would be preferable to spinach.
I was quite excited to see if my flock would appreciate this gift, as in a previous blog I had bought them the chicken swing (much to my husband’s dismay). Only to find they ignored it, pretty much like many toys I have bought for Bart and Phoebe. Cue the “I told you” speech from hubby. But as this new gadget will involve food, and chickens are naturally greedy, I can’t see this one failing. I filled it with cabbage leaves and hung it in the run.
Chckens are generally wary of anything new, and it took a few bolder members of the flock to investigate before the word was out that it was edible!
The swinging of the holder put some of the hens off, but after a while they realised it was harmless.
I checked back a couple of hours later….
I would say that was a positive result! The hanger was at a height that all chickens could get to, but it is possible to raise it to encourage them to jump for the food, whcih would provide exercise and make the treats last longer.
Definitely a thumbs up from me and the flock!