How to build a DIY chicken swing

As fun as it is to eat cornmeal and scream endlessly, chickens can also get bored. Don’t laugh: Bored chickens can wreak more havoc than you might think. “They can start to develop abnormal behaviors, like excessive feather pecking in other birds,” says Dana Campbell, animal behaviorist at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. You don’t want that in your stable.

Luckily, giving chickens an enrichment is surprisingly easy, and can be as simple as adding a rustic wooden swing set to their stagnant environment. This type of textural enrichment has the added benefit of being incredibly entertaining to watch; You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a chicken turn a coop into a playground, all the while rocking back and forth and cackling curiously. Also, you can craft one from materials you probably already have.

statistics

  • Time: 10 to 30 minutes
  • Material costs: $7 to $30
  • Difficulty: Easy

materials

How to build a chicken swing

1. Find some branches. I collected some branches that had already fallen from trees and cut an invasive Chinese tallow for others. Chickens can hold onto sticks of different sizes, but mine was about 2 inches in diameter. I also trim my branches to about 1.5 feet to accommodate the size of my Swedish flower chickens, but some heavier breeds of chickens may need a little more room. You may not need to trim your branches at all, or may find it easier to break them off by hand.

2. Drill holes in the sticks. Where you put these holes also depends on how big your chickens are, but I’ve made swings for different breeds and drilled holes about an inch and a half from each end of each branch. You want your drill bit to be slightly larger than your rope so it can slide through. I used a 9/32″ bit on my swings.

Make sure you have a firm grip on the stick so the bit doesn’t slip off. Helen Bradshaw

3. (Optional) Sand the branches. If your branches have particularly splintered or uneven spots, you can sand them down to give the chickens a better grip with their claws. In the wild, chickens often live in trees, so there’s no need to grind down the branches to get them level. It might actually be more rewarding to go to nature’s side instead of using perfectly smooth chopsticks.

4. Cut the cord. The length of your rope will depend on where you hang the swing and how close you want it to the ground. Typically, chicken swings are hung no higher than 3.5 feet or so off the ground, but they can certainly be lower to accommodate your chickens’ age, seating preferences, and familiarity with swings.

Measure from where you want to hang your swing to the height you want it off the ground, then add a few inches to give you enough room to tie the rope off securely.

5. (Optional) Add some beads. After you cut the rope but before attaching it to the branch, you can slip on some wooden beads to give your chickens an extra treat – your birds might twist the beads or find them visually appealing. Even if you don’t have the most inquisitive chickens, these swing accessories will brighten up your coop decor. Once the beads are in place, tie a knot underneath.

Eight colored beads (four on each string) on ​​a DIY chicken swing.
It’s always nice to make a project look good, even if only chickens will see it. Helen Bradshaw

6. Thread the rope through the drilled holes. This is where a twine needle can be especially helpful, especially if you’re using a type of rope that tends to bunch up, like jute. With the rope threaded through the holes, tie a double knot tightly at the base of one of the holes. Use a level to make sure the branch is level, then tie a knot under the other hole.

7. Hang the swing. I tied the tip of my rope to the rafters in the barn, wrapping it several times and tying it with several knots. Since chickens do not weigh much, this is sufficiently safe. However, if you want extra strength, drill holes in a joist in your stall, screw in a couple of metal eyelet hooks and tie the rope tightly to the hooks. Make sure the hooks are the same distance apart as the two holes in the branch.

8. Make your birds swing. It may take some time for your chickens to try out their new swing. So don’t worry if your feathered friends don’t immediately appreciate your work. You can help them get used to it by hanging the swing closer to the ground at first and gradually moving it up as they get more comfortable. Gently placing your birds on the swing and rewarding them with tasty mealworm treats can also help them adjust. And while you can certainly teach an old bird new tricks, your best chance of raising enthusiastic swingers is to introduce the birds to a swing when they are young. This project can always be scaled down from branches to twigs to launch hatchlings on their way to swinging wonder chickens.

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