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Chicken Playground: How To Build One

chicken playground

Keeping chickens as backyard pets has become increasingly popular, and enthusiasts are always looking for ways to enhance their feathered friends’ quality of life.

Creating a chicken playground is one creative and rewarding way to do so.

These are especially helpful for your flock when they can’t free-range because they give them the mental stimulation they need.

Plus, they foster an environment for them to socialize better.

In this article, we will explore chicken playgrounds, how to make them, essential components to include, and other helpful hints to ensure your chickens lead happy and healthy lives.

What Is a Chicken Playground?

A chicken playground is a designated area within your backyard or chicken run where chickens can engage in various activities, mimicking their natural behaviors (think of wild jungle fowl).

It provides them mental stimulation, physical exercise, and a safe environment to express their instincts.

Just like children benefit from playgrounds, chickens thrive when given a space tailored to their needs.

How to Plan, Design, and Build a Chicken Playground

Designing a chicken playground involves planning and considering your flock’s preferences and needs.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create the ultimate chicken playground.

Choose a Good Location

A good area is somewhere that is close to your coop or run.

If it’s not close to either of these, consider building a chicken tunnel so they can easily come and go from the playground.

If you build a chicken tunnel, pay attention to your own regular foot traffic.

For instance, you probably don’t want to walk over a tall chicken tunnel daily to get into your garden or to the barbecue pit.

If you’re in a hot area, choose a cool and shaded spot or build a chicken-run roof over the playground.

If you’re in a cold area, you might want a spot in the sunshine where it will stay warmer.

Build a Run or Enclose It

Most people will find an enclosed space the safest and most convenient.

This keeps chickens on your property, safe from predators, and out of your garden or landscaping.

It also keeps them from pooping on your porch or patio.

Most will opt to build a run, but you may be able to build a wall, backyard fence, really dense hedges, or the side of a building as a side of the enclosure.

Tailor the size of the playground to the number of chickens you have. A crowded space can lead to stress and aggression.

We suggest at least four square feet per bird, though a minimum of eight square feet is even better.

Incorporate Some Natural Elements

Chickens love to explore and forage, so their playground includes natural elements like logs, rocks, and shrubs.

These additions not only offer hiding spots but also stimulate their natural instincts.

Low shrubbery makes your chickens feel safer, especially from aerial predators.

If you have the option, use fruit trees or berry bushes for this element.

Then, it can feed you and your chickens while providing shade and enrichment.

Perches are a great addition, too. Install sturdy perches and roosts at varying heights to encourage climbing and roosting behaviors.

Chickens enjoy being off the ground, and these additions also contribute to muscle development.

Chickens love dust bathing to keep their feathers clean and control parasites.

Create designated sand or dust bath areas with fine sand or soil mixed with diatomaceous earth for a natural dusting experience.

You can use old ashes from your woodstove, too, but it will clump up if it gets wet, which is not always ideal.

Add Water Elements

Chickens enjoy playing in the water, so consider adding a shallow water feature like a small pond or dish.

This provides entertainment and helps keep them cool during hot weather.

They usually won’t swim in the water, but standing in it and exposing their legs to the cool water will help them regulate their temperature while staying hydrated.

Your chickens should always have access to clean water to avoid dehydration.

Introduce a variety of chicken-friendly plants within the playground. This not only adds visual interest but also provides additional foraging opportunities.

Now, your chickens will eat most plants down to the roots–some even digging up and eating the roots, too.

Build a simple square out of lumber and tack hardware cloth to the top to fix this.

This will make a screened-in square to protect the more delicate roots and sprouts from your hungry chickens.

On the playground’s borders, consider adding some productive vegetation like mammoth sunflowers, peas, tomatoes, oats, wheat, and barley.

Your chickens might be able to steal a few bites through the wiring, but the whole plant will be mostly protected. Then, you can eventually harvest from it.

Consider adding it to the enclosure’s south, east, and west sides so your chickens can use it as a shade source.

chicken playground with chicken on a swing

Add Some Play Structures

Incorporate chicken-friendly play structures such as mini ramps, ladders, and platforms.

These structures encourage physical activity and provide entertainment for your flock.

Old playsets designed for toddlers are great additions, too.

Chickens like to rest beneath them; you may have a few hens who will use the slide.

Most of the time, though, your chickens will perch on the railings of it and use this vantage point to enjoy the view and watch out for predators.

Include Some Shelter, Too

Include a secure shelter within the playground for your chickens to seek refuge from rain, sun, wind, and snow.

A simple coop or shaded area with proper ventilation will usually suffice.

Keep It Clean

Maintain a clean and hygienic environment within the playground.

Regularly clean water and dust bath areas and remove any debris to prevent the spread of diseases.

Add sawdust, mulch, wood shavings, rock, or lime to keep it neat and tidy if the ground turns muddy. Wet feet can lead to bumblefoot.

Chicken Playground FAQs

Is Playground Sand Okay for Chickens?

Chickens love a good dust bath, but playground sand is not a great option. It’s too fine and will get dusty very easily.

This dust is so fine that it will eventually cause respiratory issues in your flock.

Instead, use sand that is coarse and dust-free.

chicken on a swing

Do Chickens Like Chicken Swings?

Chickens generally like swings, but this may vary from individual to individual.

Swings provide both physical and mental stimulation for chickens, similar to tree branches in the wild.

Hanging a swing at an appropriate height allows chickens to perch, swing, and even play with each other.

Ensure the swing is securely attached and can support the weight of your chickens.

Should I Put a Roost in My Chicken Run?

Incorporating roosts in your chicken run is a beneficial idea.

Chickens naturally prefer to roost at night, and providing elevated roosting spots within the run encourages this behavior.

Place roosts at different heights to accommodate chickens’ preferences and to promote exercise as they jump from one level to another.

What Should You Use to Make a Chicken Run?

Common materials include hardware cloth, chain link fencing, and chicken wire.

Some may use wooden fences, while others use a rock or cobblestone wall.

Whichever material you choose, ensure it is tall enough to prevent chickens from flying over and secure enough to withstand potential predators.

Additionally, burying the fencing a few inches below the ground can prevent digging predators from entering the run.

Building a Chicken Playground: Before You Go…

Creating a chicken playground is a rewarding endeavor that benefits your feathered friends and adds a unique and enjoyable element to your backyard.

You can ensure your chickens lead happy and healthy lives by considering their natural behaviors and instincts, incorporating stimulating elements, and maintaining a safe and clean environment.

So, roll up your sleeves, gather the materials, and start building the ultimate chicken playground for a flock that’s sure to thank you with happy little clucks of delight.


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