As winter settles in, our flocks have acclimated to the colder temperatures. Often, our chickens' activity levels drop off during this time of year; in addition to the colder weather, the ground is dormant, and the bugs are gone. Despite all of this, you can create enriching exercises for your flock that will make them more active and are excellent boredom fighters. Here are some ideas!
Providing fun things for chickens in the coop will keep them engaged and exercised. You can install a chicken swing. Chickens love to roost on elevated surfaces; having a swing adds movement in addition to height. You can also add treat balls to their environment. Treat balls are toys that you can fill with tasty treats for your flock; they have to peck at the ball for a surprise to fall out! Check out our selection of delicious and nutritious treats for your treat balls!
Another easy way to add enrichment for your backyard flock is to hang a head of cabbage! Drill a hole through the cabbage and thread a rope through it, then hang it up in the coop! Hang it high enough for them to have to work at it, but not too high that they lose hope of reaching it. You can also use baskets or hanging seed cages and stuff with leafy treats, such as kale or spinach. Creating opportunities for your chickens to work for a fresh vegetable treat will fight that winter boredom, and it is good for them!
Let's Get Physical!
There is a good chance that your backyard flock is excited to see you every day! Take advantage of this energy and lead your chickens on a walk! Get them out of the coop and get them moving. You can also quickly train your flock to follow you. Use delicious treats, like PopWorms! ECO, PopWorms! PRO, and PopWorms! LIVE. Encourage them to follow you while making a noise reserved for them, such as a high-pitched whistle. Chickens learn quickly, and before long, you can open their coop and whistle for them to come to you! Whether urban or rural, your chickens will benefit from some supervised and guided free-ranging time!
Providing enriching activities for your flock is a great way to fight obesity in your hens and beat boredom! Happy, health chickens is the goal. Check out PopWorms! for more tips and delicious treats!
We love the summer, and chickens do too! Not only does summer mean warm weather and lots of bugs to eat, but it also means lots of eggs from our flock. But, as the days grow shorter, our hens lay fewer eggs. Hens require 14 to 16 hours of light a day to lay an egg. When the days become shorter, they naturally lay fewer eggs. But you can influence your hens' winter laying by adding artificial lighting to your coop!
To Light or Not to Light
This is a never-ending debate among chicken owners. Some say to allow chickens to rest over the winter, others say to provide artificial lighting to keep them laying. There is no wrong answer here--it all depends on what you, as the owner, want to do! You'll have to weigh the pros and the cons of providing artificial light and decide what is best for your flock.
By lighting the coop through the winter, you'll continue the egg-laying cycle despite the shorter days. The artificial lighting stimulates the pituitary gland in the hen, which signals her ovaries to release an egg. For chicken owners that sell eggs, this will keep your business running. Families will continue to get the eggs they need for their household as well. Lighting your coop also warms up your coop just a bit, and in particularly cold climates, this is a nice benefit.
Providing artificial light means the hens don't get rest through the winter, which many agree ultimately shortens their life. How much it impacts their lifespan is up for debate. Also, lighting a chicken coop increases the chances of an accidental fire that may destroy your flock. Lighting the coop requires consideration for doing so safely.
Types of Lighting
There are several methods for providing light in your coop. You are essentially extending their daylight hours, so putting your lighting on a timer to come on early in the morning and again after the sun goes down, ensuring your hens get at least 14 hours of light in all, is a preferred method. You can use a regular light bulb or a halogen light; you can even choose to use an infrared lamp. Lighting can be powered using solar or using electricity. In the end, ensuring your lighting is safe from breaking is most important. Also, installing your lighting in just the right place to avoid direct contact with your coop bedding is a critical consideration.
For more ideas on getting the most out of your chickens, check out our blog. For more useful information and to learn about our PopWorms! ECO and PopWorms! PRO chicken treats, visit our website. Your chickens will love you for it!