How to Keep Backyard Chickens Busy & Happy

Are your backyard chickens bored, noisy and destructive? Learn how to keep your chickens busy and happy with these tips and tricks.

Brown and grey and white chickens standing in a yard bored
© Depositphotos / Tapo4ka

If you have backyard chickens, then you can probably relate to our plight. Every year when Spring rolls around, I forget just how noisy chickens can be when the sun comes up. Our chicken coop is right outside our bedroom window, so I get a wakeup call even on the weekends when I’d rather be sleeping in.

I have discovered that the reason backyard chickens are so noisy is because they’re bored. The first thing my chickens do when I open the coop in the morning is run out and look to see if I’ve left any food scraps for them. If I haven’t, they definitely let me know they aren’t pleased by making sure I don’t get to go back to sleep.

Rather than just accept that they’ll always be noisy, I have found a few things to keep our backyard chickens busy and happy in the mornings. Granted, they will never be totally quiet – they’re chickens – but every little bit helps.

How to Keep Your Backyard Chickens Busy

1. Toss Out Your Food Scraps.

I used to toss all of my food scraps out to the chickens throughout the day and they loved it. We decided to start keeping a “chicken bowl” in the kitchen.

All of our food scraps go in there during the day and each night after I put up the chickens, we put the food scraps outside. When they come out of the coop in the morning, they have something to do.

2. Tie Up a Cabbage.

Chickens love pecking at things. Our chickens love cabbage and I love how long one head lasts for them.

If you have somewhere you can tie a cabbage up, it can keep them busy for quite some time. Simply bore a hole through the head of cabbage, then tie it up with some twine and watch your chickens have a blast pecking away at their tasty treat.

3. Create a Shaker Toy.

You basically use an old plastic bottle and drill small holes just on one side of it. Then you fill it with small treats (like chicken scratch).

Your chickens will have to kick it around the yard to try and get the scratch or other treats to fall out of the holes. The challenge keeps them busy and they get a treat.

4. Treat Them with Mealworms.

One of the easiest things we decided to do was learn how to breed mealworms as a special treat for our chickens. They go absolutely crazy over them!

You can also buy dried meal worms at many pet stores, but I find that the live ones work much better. You can keep a bin in your yard where you stock a certain number of mealworms each day that the chickens can scratch and peck for.

5. Spread out Scratch.

One of the simplest ways to keep backyard chickens happy and busy is to spread some scratch out around the yard or in the coop.

Chickens absolutely love to eat off the ground. It’s in their nature to scratch around in the dirt to find critters, so searching the yard for tasty grains is equally appreciated. I have found that if my chickens have to choose from eating from a feeder or off the ground, they always choose the ground.


To add a little diversity to their snacks, you can also egg some egg shell calcium to the mix for strong eggs. The chickens will only eat it if they need it.

Chickens eating DIY egg shell calcium supplement off the ground

These are just a few ideas to help keep your backyard chickens happy and busy – and hopefully quieter. I hope one of these ideas helps you get a little extra sleep in the mornings!