Chicken five-a-side

Whoever said chickens are feather-brained? Watching our flock of hybrids amuse themselves with these toys makes me wonder what they’re really capable of. The White Star hybrids seem particularly smart and took to their new activity with alacrity. The plastic balls consist of two halves each with a hole in their base and are kept together with elastic – we simply prise the cups apart and fill with corn putting them back together, place them on the floor of the run and sit back to watch the fun unfold. There’s the odd scuffle and blow as the game of soccer plays out. I reckon the Pied Suffolk, our biggest and most formidable bird, would have committed a few fowls (sorry, couldn’t resist!) by now if this was in fact the real deal.

White Stars surround the Pied Suffolk who’s in possession of the ball

The yellow toys are part of James’s and my efforts to improve our chicken’s lifestyles, which will also include mini climbing frames and placing apples on canes. Country Living‘s expert Suzie Baldwin, has some great ideas for hen entertainment, including swinging perches and placing mirrors around the coop and run. For other ideas, don’t miss the February 2013 issue (on sale 10 January) and glean her advice on in the December issue (on sale 8 November). In the meantime, happy henkeeping.

Slightly off-topic but – along with chicken football – the most exciting event at The Smallholdings this week was the return of our German Shepherd Darcy after three months away being trained. He’s come back super-obedient and with the same lovely nature he had before, so we’re delighted to have him home again, as are the Labradors and Beau the Bengal

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