Accessorizing Your Run- How to Make Your Run More Fun For Your Chickens

By Bloveschickens · Dec 26, 2014 · Updated Jan 24, 2015 · ·
  1. Bloveschickens
    Today many urban chickens are not able to free range, they are confined to a run. Many people do not have enough space to let there chickens free range, or they want there chickens to be safe from predators. Some chickens must stay in a run so they don't wander into the neighbors yard, or into the road. Whatever the reason your chickens must stay in a run, there are many ways to make the run more fun for your chickens.
    Her are just a few of the many ways to make your run more fun:

    #1 Roosts

    It's a fact all chicken owners know: Chickens love to roost. So adding roosts to your run will help your chickens to have a more joyful experience in the run. Because it is very obvious that chickens love to roost most chicken owners already have a roost or two in their run but I still thought that I would mention it because adding a roost is one of the simplest ways to make your run more enjoyable for your chickens.


    Here is the roost I have in my coop, it is made out of a piece of bamboo. The roost is really low, I should probably make it higher sometime soon.

    #2 Hay

    Most runs have dirt or pine shavings as their bottoms, but to get the most out of my run I put a thick layer of hay in one corner of the run, the rest of the run has a dirt bottom. Chickens love to scratch in the hay and spread it around so it is exactly where they want it. My girls love the combination of dirt and straw.


    My girls scratching around in the hay.

    #3 Stairs

    In my run I have a few stairs that my dad built especially for the chickens. I love watching the chickens climb the stairs and get to the top. I also like to sprinkle a few mealworms on each step and watch the chickens climb up each step and gobble up the treats. Stairs are an easy way to make your run more fun for your chickens.


    They really enjoy the stairs!

    #4 Tree stumps, bales of hay, lawn chairs etc.

    Chickens love anything that they can jump on top of, my welsummer pickles loves tree stumps. I currently have a bale of hay and two stumps in my run. I used to also have an old lawn chair in the run and the chickens really liked it but I took it out because it was taking up too much space. When putting things for your chickens to jump on in your run be careful not to add to many, because if you add a lot of things it could take up too much of the ground space for your chickens to scratch in.


    My welsummer Pickles on a stump. She lost one of her eyes to a raccoon a few months ago [​IMG]


    My buff orpington Haddie chilling on a hay bale. [​IMG]

    #5 Dust bathing areas
    It is necessary that you have an area where your chickens can dust bathe in your run all year round. Dust bathing is important for chickens because it keeps them clean. The dust removes excess oil from the chickens skin and can even kill parasites. Dust bathing kills parasites by covering them in dust which suffocates them. You have to make sure your run has an area of dry loose dirt and sand that your chickens can dust bathe in and you also have to make sure that the area is protected from becoming a big muddy mess in the rain. To keep the dust bathing area from getting wet try to put a roof over it- I suggest putting a roof on top of your whole run to protect your chickens from hawks and other predators that could easily climb over a fence.

    To provide a dust bathing area for your chickens you can pour some sand in the corner of your run, fill an old tire with sand, or let your chickens make their own dust bathing area and just help them to keep it dry.


    This is the favorite dust bathing spot in my run, a dry dusty corner. One or two chickens can use this spot at a time, the others either wait until they are done or dust bathe in another dry spot in the run.

    #6 A fun treat

    This is basically an apple hanging from a piece of string but your chickens will really love pecking at it and it is a great way to add excitement to your chickens run. It is super easy to make too! Heres how:

    Step 1: First get an apple and stab through the center with a straw, you can also use a skewer, whatever will get a hole through the center


    Step 2: Now peel the apple

    You can feed the peels to your chickens! Apple peels are a favorite treat in my flock.

    Step 3: Now get a knife and cut many horizontal lines across the whole apple.

    Step 4: Now you can cut vertical lines all over the apple. These cuts make it easier for the chickens to pull off pieces of the apple.


    Step 5: Now get a rope and stick it through the hole in the center of the apple. Tie a knot at the bottom.


    Step 6: Now hang the apple in your run where the chickens will be able to reach it. Your chickens will love this treat.


    You can make this with practically any fruit or vegetable. It is a great snack year round!

    Thanks for reading!

    If you have any other ideas about how to make a run more fun for chickens please comment and I would be glad to add it to this article. [​IMG]

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Recent User Reviews

  1. Aussie-Chookmum
    "Nice ideas for happy chooks!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed May 26, 2019 at 2:54 AM
    All great ideas. I particularly like the step by step guide for hanging fruit.:)
  2. fldiver97
    "Boredom busters for run"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed May 24, 2019 at 11:36 AM
    Enrichment of poultry environment is very beneficial, same as for any confined beings. Whether you have to use a run part or full time for your flock, using some of the suggestions in this article will provide entertainment for chickens as well as encourage natural behaviors and minimize issues like feather picking. Most of it can be done with no or little expense. No need to peel apples for chickens though unless you you want to go the extra mile ;)
  3. hispoptart
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed May 23, 2019 at 9:52 PM
    Thanks for the info, I have been thinking about ways to make their run more fun.


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  1. PirateGirl
    I too have a roost, nothing fancy, just a long stick I found in the firewood pile, I move it around sometimes, change the height and position in the run, and all the sudden everyone is interested in it all over again! If your chickens aren't free range, my advice is do things to change up their environment.

    Also, since mine aren't free range, the dirt run gets hard-packed after awhile. The girls love when I go in there with a pick and tear up all the earth for them. They go to town scratching and digging and dust bathing immediately. I usually unearth several worms in the process, an added bonus.

    Nothing needs to be fancy or expensive. Anything to make what your chickens already have new and exciting can work.
  2. potato chip
    I have vinyl BBQ covers in my girls' runs. They just sit there on the ground and when you pick them worms and slaters have gathered underneath for the girls to eat. Also I've got branches and "stuff" piled up for them to climb on. I move it about from time to time.
    1. Barbara Luke
      Good idea ... Putting down cloth to be moved later for chicken treats!
  3. black_dove2
    I love the photos you added for clarification. Seeing the apple on a string in step by step instructions with photos was perfect.
  4. NinjaChicken617
    I saw a video of a flock of chickens pecking at a child's toy xylophone that was mounted on the side of the coop, and it was adorable. They seemed fascinated first by the colors, and then delighted by the different sounds. I've been on the lookout for one to give to my girls. Also, I have a wooden pallet up on cinderblocks in my run, and the girls like jumping on and off of it. We tried giving them a swing, but only one (my orpington) used it and wasn't particularly happy about how it moved.
    1. Virginia and James
      I picked one up and gave it to my girls last year. After the initial "WHAT IS THAT?!?!?", they enjoyed playing with it. It's somewhere in the hay now.
      minaayindra likes this.
  5. peckpeckpeck
    Great ideas! I'll have to try the stairs.

    I use an apple corer to core the apple & don't bother peeling. It gives them an extra challenge & makes the piñata last longer.

    Sometimes I'll also leave a potted plant against their run so they can pick at it through the wire. They love fennel this way.
  6. amanda1
    It is so nice that you think of your chickens' pleasure and entertainment like you do. Thank you for the great ideas!
  7. Sandiemouse
    Believe it or not, surprisingly my chickens love a lil baby swing , just a piece of wood hanging with string. Nothing fancy. :frow
  8. Hobbits Mommie
    I guess my chickens are "chicken" to say the least. I put a stump in their run over the weekend, and they didn't come out of the coop for 2 days until I removed the stump. I tried...
  9. ZachyWachy
    My bantams don't have much in their small run, so one of them decided that I would be his perch whenever I am in there!=) I am going to try putting an old hay bale in there so that they can perch on it and scratch it around a bit.
  10. blackandtan
    Great article and pics! In the summer I mostly free range but during the long cold winters my girls get a ton of treats. Their favourite is edibles of course, I use a repurposed plant hanger I dubbed “The Apple Stabber 1000”, I can stab up to six apples on it or a whole head of cabbage and hang it on a hook. Be creative! I also use a dog toy that is a ball you fill with dry treats that releases treats as it’s rolled around.
  11. Jack Speese
    Cool! I've done a lot of these things myself. My run has a turkey wire top so I couldn't put a bale of hay or straw in because it would get wet and moldy, but in the fall I throw raked leaves in, which they love, weeds, which they also love and gives them a source of greens, pumpkins and other old (but not spoiled or moldy) produce, etc. And they have outdoor perches. Each hen has about 20 sq ft of run space and 4 sq ft of coop space (we live near Augusta, GA and don't get a lot of extreme winter weather). I occasionally let them out for a supervised free-range session which they love, but can't all the time because there are too many hawks around. I like the idea of a solid top for a run too, but we have woods around us and plenty of shade, and though we might get a little mud during a prolonged rain spell, it also helps break down the poop, I think. Although I rake the run occasionally as well.
  12. Helenahenbasket
    I like the way you did your Apple!
      Pawpawchick and Hobbits Mommie like this.
  13. Sue Solakian
    What about colors. Read that chickens see more colors than humans. How about hanging objects of different colors for them to peck at? Maybe a kids xylonphne so it makes different sounds when pecked.

    Red is a favorite color.
      minaayindra and D-Bar-B like this.
  14. lucymarcysally
    Love the idea with the stairs!! My girls will come part way up the stairs to my back deck but having their own stairs would be fun for them. I have a squirell feeder that is shaped kind of like a picnic table with benches and it has a spike coming up from the top of the table. I zip tie that to the fence around their area and put a cob of corn over the spike. The girls have a blast getting the corn off the cob. And since the cob covers the spike I don't have to worry about them getting hurt on the spike. i saw something on BYC about making frozen corn pops in muffin tins so I do that in the summer and the girls think that is great with corn or blueberries.
      minaayindra and Barbara Luke like this.
  15. sheetmetaltom
    nice article, been awhile since i added anything so after reading this i took a couple of cut logs and put a thick branch on top for a new roost in the run, they were all over it in a flash thanks
      minaayindra and Hobbits Mommie like this.
  16. KDMdesigns
    That's ironic I just acquired some stumps recently too and have them in our run!! Hubby thought it was a strange idea, glad I wasn't off the grid on thinking of it..
      black_dove2 and peckpeckpeck like this.
  17. 4 Georgia Hens
    Awesome!! I have been wanting to make my run more fun!
      ColoradoSLV and FarmerGirl101 like this.
  18. N F C
    Good tips! I especially like the apple idea :)
      Georgiastray and black_dove2 like this.
  19. KaptainHowdy
    Great article!
    I am in the process of building my coop and run right now (may 2019). One thing I have planned for is a 2 foot wide box on the outer edge of the run that runs the entire 14 foot length. It will sit on the ground so its higher than the normal grade. Covered in 1/4 inch hardware cloth. And I'll plant barley or some other tasty greens for the girls. This way they cant get to the roots and they will have lots of greens thru summer!
      minaayindra likes this.
  20. ajackalope
    I give my girls watermelon rind. After I cut out almost a the pink flesh I give them the rind. In about an hour there is just shreds of green outer skin left. I only give them a out 1/4 of a melon because they can get nasty pink diarrhea. I'll also give them a cauliflower and they love to kick it around when they eat it. I've heard of giving them a mirror so I'm trying to find a good sized unbreakable one.
      minaayindra likes this.
    1. Melbeforeyou
  21. oldload
    Our girls absolutely love corn on the cob. We buy it still in the husk, shuck it at home and use the stalk to tie it up, swinging. They work on it all day.
      minaayindra likes this.
  22. chickenmeadow
    Last year my flock got toys in their extra run: my plastic chair, t-pees & lg dog crate lid/bottoms. They run under these, others run in too, they peak in on each other, they lay down in them & stand on the tops. A real playground of non-stop fun for us to watch, great chicken tv.
      minaayindra likes this.
  23. 40Acre Momma
    AWESOME information!! I'm looking at building a run for my girls pretty soon and I LOVE your ideas :)
      minaayindra likes this.
  24. RachelGM
    In the 2nd photo showing the stairs, you have a dark brown hen. What breed is she? I only ask because I have one just like her and don't know the breed. Great ideas, by the way, will be trying those in my run!
      Pawpawchick likes this.
    1. GuineaFowling
      Not OP, but the dark brown hen next to the buff hen looks to be an Easter Egger.
      Pawpawchick likes this.
  25. Barbara Luke
    This year I discovered thick pine shavings for ground cover. It has the right ph to counter the ammonia and it dries the poop. No clean up necessary! No flies and no ants. Some folks in this thread have suggested logs and bales of hay in coop for chickens. With my most recent air tight bale of pine shavings, rather than spreading the shavings myself, I simply cut off the top plastic, as it layed on its side. The chickens are finding it interesting to peck at, jump on, scratch and sit together. They are cultivating it and moving the shavings themselves!
      minaayindra likes this.
    1. NinjaChicken617
      I've been using pine shavings inside my 4' x 4' coop all along and it works great for me. I add more shavings occasionally, but the girls keep it turned and moving around themselves. The droppings dry very nicely, and there is no odor at all, even in the heat of summer. I empty the coop out completely once a year so I can check for cracks or holes and get rid of the cobwebs and dust. My 8 girls spend most of their time outside in a fenced-in 15' x 30' run, so they really only sleep and lay their eggs inside the coop, which helps. The run was grass to begin with, but after the girls killed off the grass we got a local landscaper to drop off a few yards of wood chips, and we spread those around the yard to help control the mud. They keep the wood chips moving all the time too, so there's no buildup of poop outside either.
      minaayindra likes this.
  26. SilkieNation
    I use a baby pool filled with leaf mold/compost for dirt bathing in the coop. I use leaf mold in their run. Both work well. I'm going to add a low roost (they're Silkies) and try the apple. Thanks!
      D-Bar-B likes this.
  27. FlyWheel
    How about swings?

    Can rotting logs be put into the pen for them to hunt for bugs?
      black_dove2 likes this.
  28. extrememainer
    I love it!! Your chickens are soooo spoiled!!! It is sooo awesome!!!!
      D-Bar-B likes this.
  29. bmanty
    We have tree stumps and many cynder blocks placed around and stacked in different ways.
      black_dove2 likes this.
  30. Matthew Huffman
    I loved reading this. This was very helpful. Thank You!
      blackdust951 likes this.
  31. roger519
    How often do you clean your run. Mine is construction gravel and I clean it every day and it stays dry and smell free. I think hay and dirt are nasty and wet and full of pooping
      black_dove2 likes this.
    1. black_dove2
      How deep is the gravel in your run? How do you rake or clean?
      There's some in my run but even with just 2 hens they scratch and overturn even rocks! I have to run water over it to rake and clean because of ants
    2. roger519
      3 to 4 inches I use a cat poop scoop the gravel goes through it and then rake it cause you know they dig. I don't have ants. I never wet my gravel. I have no smell and it is so clean for my granddaughter to go in and help feed and love her girls
      eklein82 and black_dove2 like this.
    3. black_dove2
      Mine doesn't smell either that's not been problem. Was curious because I know mine have been digging some pretty deep holes in the sand and gravel, thank you for reply
  32. dunnmom
    Good article, thanks!
      black_dove2 likes this.
  33. Cluckies
    Love the stairs, have to see if I have enough room for some in my run! :)
      Michelle Farmer-Brown likes this.
  34. Bloveschickens
    I would love if you would take some pictures Feathyr :) you can PM me the pictures and I will add that to my article, I also have some more ideas that I will also add soon. Anyone else who has pictures to add to the article I would love to see them. The more pictures the better!
      black_dove2 likes this.
  35. Bloveschickens
    Feathyr- Do you have any pictures of your chickens eating from a treat-filled suet feeder? I would love to add this to my article but do not own a suet feeder and wouldn't want to post a picture from the internet because it may be copyrighted.
      Charles Lutz likes this.
  36. Feathyr
    Nice article! Another idea is to fill a hanging suet feeder with bread, lettuce, or cabbage leaves. The feeder creates a fun challenge for your birds while keeping the treat clean.
      Michelle Farmer-Brown likes this.
  37. Melbeforeyou
    Some great ideas.I know chickens can get bored just like we do.
  38. WELDON99
    I buy cabbage heads when they are on sale and hang them from the top of the coop at various levels so all my hens can get at them. It's comical to watch them. A large cabbage head will last maybe 24 hours!! I simply run a copper wire through them and hang it on a chain. I also will give them stale bread. They will all try to get the first 2 or 3 pieces and it's a frenzy until everyone has a piece!! They also like potatoe peelings and watermelon. I have 43 birds in 6 coops, from 1 1/2 months to 4 years old.
  39. Kimsgirls
    All good ideas! I especially like the hanging fruit! My hens are so 'food motivated', as I know most chickens are. We have a really nice pen for our 8 girls, but my husband built it with wire floors to keep out predators so they can't really take dust baths. I let them out to free range as much as possible, but we have lots of hawks and coyotes so someone has to watch them. Your idea of putting some sand in a corner of the coop might work. I feel kinda bad when I see where they dig holes but don't get very far.
  40. Kimsgirls
    All good ideas! I especially like the hanging fruit! My hens are so 'food motivated', as I know most chickens are. We have a really nice pen for our 8 girls, but my husband built it with wire floors to keep out predators so they can't really take dust baths. I let them out to free range as much as possible, but we have lots of hawks and coyotes so someone has to watch them. Your idea of putting some sand in a corner of the coop might work. I feel kinda bad when I see where they dig holes but don't get very far.
  41. Allton
    Very interesting... !
  42. Hens1952
    I bought a chicken swing but the ladies do not seem interested. Thoughts?
  43. olivigus
    Really like your stairs! I have an old wooden stepladder leaning up against a tree in our run, and sometimes there's a chicken sitting on every step. I added a big redwood branch this summer to make a roost across the run, and they all seem to enjoy it too.
  44. extrememainer
    I have heard of chicken swings I have seen them to sooo cool
    1. Barbara Luke
      I also saw the ad for the chicken swing. I purchased one. As I observe the chickens, they seem to prefer the more steady stationary type perch, instead.
      minaayindra likes this.
    2. TomZilla43
      I made one for my girls and hung it in there, they loved it when they were young pullets, Then I swapped them to a bigger coop and run and didn't get it put back in right away, after the move they never seemed interested at all. Struck me as strange, but LOTS of chicken behavior strikes me as strange
  45. Krisabelle
    What fantastic Ideas. I will have to see what we can do in our run for the girls.
  46. sunflour
    Great ideas, thanks for sharing.
  47. BantamFan4Life
    This is a wonderful article. Thanks so much for sharing! :)
  48. RavensRansom
    Good article & nice pics to go with it.
  49. ChickyChickens
    Nice article!!!
  50. Feathyr
    @ Bloveschickens:
    I don't have any on hand, but that doesn't mean I can't take some. :)

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