I can categorically tell you that your chickens do not need you to entertain them. They will be quite happy entertaining themselves. If they get bored they’ll preen or perch and watch the world go by or have a snooze or something. However your chickens will entertain you, even if you don't realise it at the time.
It is important to remember that chickens are not team players and are extremely competative. They can be vicious nasty creatures, who will let their sisters know, absolutely and without a doubt, who is top hen. There is no way you will get them to behave any differently no matter how hard you try. This does not mean that they do not play games. The games chickens play are usually aimed at keeping you happy whilst they behave in an extremely chickeney way. Remember team playing is definitely out, there are no team games, it is all for one and none for anyone else!
In addition to this, if you choose not to play games with your chickens and keep them safely locked up whilst you are in the garden they will make your life difficult and make you feel extremely guilty at the same time. Just like very young children they have a way to communicate their disgust at you, when they want attention and are not getting it. You will identify with the noise as soon as it starts! It is wholly unfair that you should be out having fun and not including them.You either have to get deaf, cold hearted or give in. If you crack and open the door to the run, that’s when the fun really starts.
- Wrelease Wroderwick! – or let me out of hear. A game based on getting out of the run.
Eating is a chicken’s primary task each day. Food is life and human food is much tastier than chicken food, no matter what it might be. This also includes the taste of human if you happen to look tasty. Avoid wearing bright nail polish, sparkly jewellery and bright coloured clothes if you are concerned about becoming a potential snack. A peck does not hurt, your chickens don’t have teeth, but a peck can be a suprise if you aren’t expecting it, remember fingers are worms in disguise. Here are some games that have evoaround food for us;
- Snatch – or that’s mine not yours.
- Tug of war – or that's also mine not yours!
- Killer ball – or I really mean it, that IS MINE!!
Bath time games
Chickens do not like water especially in bath sized quantities. Dust bathing however is a chicken’s favourite hobby, next to eating and sunbathing. It is a very necessary and delightful sport and something a chicken can do as an individual or as part of the flock. As a group activity, remember chickens do not do team games so it can become a viciouse activity. Your chicken will have a dust bath wherever she wants to and your plants are not in any way important at all, unless they are food. Do not be fooled into thinking that your chickens have a favourite dust bathing spot so therefore that the rest of the garden is a safe haven from desolation, because you will be wrong. The challenge of giving others the impression that you have a tidy garden is your chicken’s gift to you!
- Volcanoes – or how to make a big mess in a small space
- Finders keepers - or if you found it it must be yours
Free Ranging games
Picking on each other over food, a nesting space, the dust bathing hole and at any other time if they feel like it, does not mean that your chickens do not share sisterly love for each other and the constant desire to be part of a bigger flock. This can be extremely amusing when they spot themselves in a window or a mirror. It is not quite so much fun when they choose to wander into the neighbour’s garden looking for friends. It would help if the neighbours didn’t leave food out for the birds, chickens are birds after all and well finders keepers! This search for companionship, in the guise of searching for new and tasty snacks, has brought about another series of games including some of the ones listed below like Chicken herding and Chicken Divining. The other more popular ones include;
- Talking to yourself – or lets sneak off whilst they’re not looking
- Hide and seek – or I’m going AWOL
- Sneaking off - or I’m sure there must be something tasty out there somewhere, Ill just go have a look.
Home time games
A chicken’s greatest delight is not going back into the run when you really need them to, even if you give them a 5 minute warning. The primary rule for getting your chickens home is to never, ever, leave it to the last minute. You will absolutely miss your train, movie, dinner date etc. Your chickens will always know when you are in a hurry and will always object to going home most at these important times. A number of our chicken’s favourite games have evolved for us as a result of forgetting the primary rule.
- Follow the leader – or I can see worms
- Chicken Herding – or I don’t want to go back in the run
- Chicken Divining – or I really don’t want to go back in the run, or there’s a big stick and I need to hide from it
The Secondary rule is, whatever happens, your chickens will soon identify where their regular meals are coming from, where they feel safest to roost and where the rest of the flock are. If they run away to find food elsewhere, you are the top hen and they will seek you out. They will come home eventually even if that happens at nightfall.
Last but not least is the love game.
This is a game that you will play regularly when you need to pick up your chickens for whatever reason. Chickens will be petted but will also avoid it if possible. On occasion you will come across a chicken that is happy to be loved but generally they would rather be looking for food or having a dust bath. If you want to pick up a chicken you will soon learn the rules. My only advice is to get someone younger than you to do the picking up. It’s fun to watch and you get the cuddle reward without losing your dignity. Unless of course your chicken chooses this moment to play the less pleasant version of “Finders Keepers”!
We would love to hear of any games that you play. So let us know what games have evolved around your flock.