Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Avoiding Boredom with Backyard Chickens...
Alfalfa Feeder (AKA Suit Holder)
Today the rain just would not stop! It was pouring down rain -  thundering, lightening, and the yard was filled with puddles. I hated leaving the girls cooped up, but I do during inclement weather.

I take a few treats out to them through out the day to keep them busy like cabbage, some watermelon, cherries, apple slices, strawberries, some veggies, some earthworms, a few meal worms or a few greens.  They get plenty to eat - I worry about boredom.  I am concerned if they get bored, they will start pecking at each other and fighting - I am trying to avoid that issue.  I have made a few "Chicken Toys" for the girls to keep them occupied - they actually work I think!  Anyway, I change them out so they won't get used to them. (The ones I have filled with scratch grains, I change what grains I put in it for them - its ever-changing!)

Lately, I have read some people give their chickens a bale of alfalfa to pick at and it keeps them busy.  I liked the idea but I use straw over the sand to make cleaning easier.  I like the straw for the compost pile - I did not want to encourage eating poo-covered bedding. I decided I would just buy a small hay feeder and hang it inside the pen - problem solved.  It would also give them something to peck at without having to get it off the water-soaked ground.

Since the girls were penned up today, I went to the feed store today to get the alfalfa and holder. I bought a bale of alfalfa but the hay feeder was just too much money I thought for a couple of pieces of wire.

After leaving the feed store, I went to Tractor Supply. There I found a large suit feeder; I think it is actually for feeding squirrels - it was less than $5.00 - I could make that work.

I got home, filled it with alfalfa and hung it inside the pen. I video taped the chickens reactions. As always, anytime something is added that is new, the girls talk about it first, then the big girl approaches, checks it out, and once she is comfortable, the others come up to check it out. 

Adding the suit feeder as a hay feeder kept them busy for quite awhile this afternoon.  I will keep it as part of their feeding regimen they liked it so well.  I will also be able to fill it with other goodies and treats.  This idea is a keeper!

Note: I ended up screwing it to the divider of the pen and attaching it with a metal bracket so it is securely hung.  The chickens managed to pull it down so I had to re-secure it!


  1. Great idea! We get some terrible rain storms and keeping the girls occupied when they have to stay inside is important to me too. Thanks for the great idea.

    1. I give the girls hay pats in the winter - they love scratching and picking at the greens and they like eating it too. I make toys for them like I used a hanger and put apple pieces, corn nibblers, day old bread pieces and dried corn and hung it out for them, I even tied a bunch of fabric together around a wire ring and they batted that around for quite awhile. I will be making some more stuff to keep them occupied this winter since they won't be going out much if we have a lot of inclement weather. I am thinking I might build a small greenhouse type structure covered with plastic so they will have areas to go into and out of the wind....I hope to have a few additional areas for them to hang out in anyway. I will keep you posted!