Poultry and other captive birds across the UK still remain on bird flu lockdown, this is a necessary step to prevent spread of disease but is proving to be a tricky situation for farmers and the back yard chicken keeper as the problem goes on.
For us, putting our chickens on lockdown wasn’t a difficult affair thanks to our lovely walk-in runs with covered roofs, they still receive plenty of light and fresh air and egg laying hasn’t suffered. If, like ours, your flock is used to free-ranging often, suddenly being cooped up 24/7 with little to do can have a detrimental effect on behaviour leading to increased boredom bullying or feather pecking. Luckily for us our chicken runs are also really spacious, the problem however is boredom and that’s where things can get tricky. Touch wood bullying has been to a minimum, just the usual behaviour you’d expect to see within a flock but there are ways to improve welfare during this difficult time. So, what can you do to prevent boredom for your chickens permanently locked in?
Giving them something to have a good peck at (rather than each other) is a great way to prevent unwanted bullying. Spike’s World kindly sent us a Feathers and Beaky expandable veg holder for our hens to trial. The design is simple to use, just pop the vegetables inside the expandable springy holder and put the lid on (we used winter cabbage), the holder can then be hung from any height by attaching string.
At first our girls were very unsure of this strange flying cabbage-thing and chose to hang back and ignore it, the springy movement of the vegetable holder scared them as they cautiously pecked at it so we tried adding a handful of loose sweetcorn (their favourite treat), stuffing it inside the cabbage leaves.
We knew they couldn’t resist and in next to no time they were pecking at the veg holder with no fear whatsoever…..
Even ‘cutting strange shapes’ to get to the contents…..
You can add vegetables such as sweetcorn cobs, lettuce, cabbage and greens etc. The holder keeps the veg clean and dry and prevents unwanted visitors such as rats. Raise the holder slightly to encourage extra exercise! The girls love pecking at their veg holder for hours on end, it really helps with boredom. Give it a try for your lockdown chickens.