3 Chicken Projects To Perk Up Your Poultry (And You)

Feeling cooped during the coronavirus response? Here are three chicken projects that will keep you, and your hens, occupied while you wait.

by Ana Hotaling
PHOTO: SoniaT 360./Flickr

Like most of America (and much of the world), you may suddenly have found yourself with spare time on your hands … with the caveat being you have to spend that time at home. Instead of going stir crazy, let those creative juices flow with these three chicken projects that will beautify your coop and keep you contentedly occupied (at least for a little while!).

Create a Coopsterpiece

We all have cans of paint stored somewhere in our garage, shed, basement or workroom. Now’s the perfect time to open those up, see what needs to be trashed, and put the viable paint to work.

Set the interior paint aside for now. It’s the exterior paint that’s getting a workout.

Determine how much of each color you have, then take a good walk around your coop. Is there trim? Are there shutters, an exterior nestbox, a human-access door?

Use the largest quantity of paint as the coop’s new base color, then determine which of your remaining exterior colors will transform your henhouse into a work of art. Remember that this is an exercise in fun and creativity, not just in coop maintenance. Don’t be afraid to try crazy color combinations.

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The only limits are your imagination … and how much paint you have on hand.

Note: Just make sure your birds are well away from the coop as you paint, for their safety and so that you don’t have 20 pairs of eyes watching every brush stroke.  

Unsure of your chicken coop needs? Start with these tips.

Start a Poultry Garden

If you keep a confined flock—or even if you don’t—your birds will adore a garden planted just for them. You can plant it within their run or, if your flock free ranges, as lovely landscaping for their coop.

Once you have determined the garden’s location (you may need to use a raised bed), prepare your planting site by removing sod and adding top soil and compost.

Your birds may even assist you. Unlike other chicken projects, they can stay close for this one. Their talons make them highly efficient aerators, and your girls will happily dig in the dirt until you determine they—and you—are done.

If buying started plants is currently not possible, order seeds and start your own inside (never sow them directly to the dirt, as your chickens will gobble them up).

Suggestions for your chicken garden include clover, common marigolds (calendula), oregano, alfalfa, turnips, kale and sage.

A secondary project: a wire cage top for your garden to minimize your flock’s enthusiastic eating and protect the plant roots so that they can grow back.

Here are some more ideas for your chicken playground!

Build a Playground

Chickens love to play. Their natural curiosity and their social nature make them perfect candidates for a poultry playground, especially one you can build for your birds using scrap materials you have around your house.

Check your workshop or garage for:

  • Scrap 2x4s
  • A scrap 1×1
  • Rope
  • Play sand
  • An old tire

To make your birds’ new sandbox, thoroughly clean and sanitize the old tire. Then fill it with play sand once it’s in place in your run.

For the swing, cut your scrap 2x4s into five equal 36-inch lengths and assemble them with screws into a sawhorse. (Experienced woodworkers: Use your miter or circular saw to cut angles into the ends for a better fit.)

Cut your scrap 1×1 into a 24-inch bar. Be sure to sand down all rough edges to prevent injury to your hens and your hands.

Drill a centered hole two inches from each end of the bar. Drill matching holes in the crosspiece of your sawhorse.

Thread the rope up from the underside of one side of the bar through the matching crosspiece, then over and back down through the remaining two holes.

Cut the rope so that the bar hangs five inches from the ground, then knot the rope ends beneath the bar. Place the swing in the center of the run so that your birds aren’t tempted to use it as a step stool to hop over your fencing. 

These chicken projects should keep you busy for awhile!

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