Busting Boredom out of the Brooder

5 tips for keeping your baby chicks free of boredom!
By TheYLWFlock · May 5, 2018 · ·
  1. TheYLWFlock
    The typical brooder:
    -A cardboard box
    -Pine shavings
    -Heat lamp and bulb
    -Food and water

    Pretty boring in my opinion... I sure wouldn’t want to be spending 6 weeks in that! Not only is it incredibly boring, but it can lead to some nasty habits as well!

    With nothing to stimulate them, baby birds (especially chicks) will turn to each other for entertainment and unfortunately, their idea of fun is pecking. Pecking face, feathers, vent, you name it! And eventually after all of that pecking, the bare spots will become pink and that invites picking, cannabalism and eventually death. Why not fix the problem before there even is one?

    These 5 boredom busters will help keep your flock entertained, happy and healthy in the brooder until they are ready to go outside!

    1. Mirror

    You’d be surprised at how much the chicks will enjoy staring/pecking at their reflection! This gives hours of endless fun and is easy to install: just hang it on a wall!

    3D3D0670-8B4A-4B5F-B186-FFCC50123663.jpeg B03B4372-427B-4FA0-8EBE-C5F8DE48E536.jpeg

    2. Perching Bar

    Chicks enjoy practicing their perching skills by hopping on and off a make-shift perch! While they probably won’t roost/sleep on it yet, it provides stimulation and fun, and gets them ready for when they are older. All you need is some wood to construct one, and you can even use a stick from outside, just make sure to clean it off before use!

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    3. Toys

    I provide fluffy little balls for my chicks to roll around, cuddle up against and hop on. They like the fluffiness of them and it provides fluffy surfaces to peck at, other than their friends! Cat toys or large Pompoms work great, just make sure that the babies can’t eat them!

    374131B9-99FF-4F04-B7B5-ECEEE0A64494.jpeg 143EF986-6D9D-49F4-86D3-0B88E243196A.jpeg

    4. Clumps of Weeds or Grass

    Putting in pulled up weeds gives your chicks a fun treat to play with! Leave the roots and dirt on; it provides the grit they need to properly digest it. Mine love scratching around and eating weeds, especially dandelions! Just make sure that the plants you’re giving haven’t been sprayed with any chemicals that could harm them.

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    5. Outdoor Trips

    Who doesn’t love to go outside? Visits to the backyard are a great way to introduce chicks to their future life and is probably refreshing after being stuck inside all day! Supervising them is a good idea, as is having them
    in a secure pen that they can’t get out of!

    C9645303-57C6-48EB-93FF-9FD66AAA1812.png AB0AD4A9-A34D-48D9-A816-49AFDF34AC2D.jpeg 54EB5BB1-CBD5-480C-AB79-EA4917D02DE4.jpeg

    Hopefully this will help make your babies boredom free!

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    About Author

    TheYLWFlock is a small chicken family based in Kelowna, British Columbia. They enjoy free ranging around the yard, yummy treats from the garden and chasing the dog whenever possible. The owner of the flock occasionally shares some DIY ideas with BYC, otherwise, you can find her browsing through forums and threads or outside watching “Chicken Television” and playing with her other animals.


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  1. Cadbury22
    I found that a couple of sticks for perching and an old DVD hanging up was a lot of stimulation for chicks. Plus hand feeding them and picking them up once in awhile.
      TheYLWFlock and chickenreyna like this.
    1. TheYLWFlock
      I’ve heard too that the chicks like the rainbow reflection on the DVDs!
  2. chickenreyna
    Lovely article thanks
      TheYLWFlock likes this.
    1. TheYLWFlock
      You’re very welcome!
      chickenreyna likes this.
  3. Northern.Ontario
    I have 108 broilers. What about crickets or worms for stimulation
      TheYLWFlock likes this.
    1. Northern.Ontario
      The brooder is 8 feet by 12 feet. Chicks are 4 days old.
      TheYLWFlock likes this.
    2. TheYLWFlock
      Mealworms are a great treat for young chicks as well! Perhaps it would be best to wait until they are at least a week before feeding them the worms? Make sure to provide grit for them as well!
  4. Living_Legend
    Baseballs. That's what everyone is missing. Baseballs.
      TheYLWFlock and Ducksandchickens like this.
    1. Ducksandchickens
      Wait, do chicks like to play with baseballs?
      TheYLWFlock likes this.
    2. TheYLWFlock
      I’ve never heard of baseballs for chicks! I’ll have to try it, thanks!
  5. Ducksandchickens
    Love it! We hav added all those things before! Our chickens sure aren’t bored!
      TheYLWFlock likes this.
    1. TheYLWFlock
      Thanks so much!

      I’m glad to hear that these ideas work for you too!
      Ducksandchickens likes this.
  6. Mraya
    Don't forget to add a bowl of dirt so they can dust bath.
    Love this article.
      Ducksandchickens and TheYLWFlock like this.
    1. TheYLWFlock
      Thank you!

      I did have the dust bath in there at one point... unfortunately they loved it so much that they felt the need to kick it all over the brooder! The water was very dirty that day!
      Mraya likes this.
  7. the cluck juggler
    All great ideas! I've often been thinking the same thing, how boring isn't it to sit in a cardboard box all day long? If it were us, we'd go crazy. Haha! When I built a new room for chicks and ducklings last year, I put a small window at floor height, so they can sit in the sun and look outside. They love it!
      TheYLWFlock likes this.
    1. TheYLWFlock

      I know, right! I just got to thinking how dull every day would be... I like your window idea, I will try that sometime!
      the cluck juggler likes this.
  8. Dawnclucks22
    I don’t even have babies but I loved reading this article.
      TheYLWFlock likes this.
    1. TheYLWFlock
      Thank you! Even if you don’t have chicks now, It’ll help you prepare for when you do have babies!
      Dawnclucks22 likes this.
  9. techbsmith
    Some great ideas! I started digging up a bit of sod from the yard and adding to the brooder after reading some tips from @Blooie - the chicks love it. I always put a perch in for them as well, it doesn't take the babies long before they start hopping on/off and eventually sleeping on it. That is after they come out of the mama hen heat cave :)

    I like to interact with them frequently and not just be "that giant thing that gives us food/water and cleans our poop". It's always better to keep the babies interested as you mentioned so they don't start picking on each other.
    1. TheYLWFlock
      Thank you! I enjoy interacting with them as well! Usually to them you are just “the big giant coming to get us!” I always keep a couple of treats handy with me... mealworms are a favorite!
      SavKel&RynKel likes this.

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