So you may have noticed by now that I do adore my little hens. We have two at the moment, affectionately known as Ginger Hen and Speckledy Hen (not very original I know, but at least my other half knows which one I am referring too)!
Chickens are actually quite clever animals and although they don’t tend to get destructive when bored, egg production may reduce and well.. they just get a bit sad!
So when Omlet asked us to review some of their chicken enrichment toys the girls thought it was an eggcellent idea and watched with great anticipation whilst their new ‘toys’ were set up! The toys in question were the Omlet meter long perch and the rather ‘hentertaining’ Chicken Swing!
The perch was a bit of a no-brainer for the girls. My other half thought it would be best for them to have it installed under their sheltered area so they could have a nice perching area out of the glaring sun or sheltered from the rain. It has been designed so it will screw directly into wood or can be clipped onto wire or mesh. The way our chicken area is designed meant we could screw each end straight onto a wooden section – however fixing onto mesh or wire is really easy.
I know chickens like a bit of height, I have found ours in a tree more often than I care to remember – but we decided to keep the perch a little lower to the floor in the hope both would learn what it was for and we could raise the height when they get more confident.
As you can see from the photos, Ginger Hen is ALOT braver than Speckledy Hen! Both girls are now more than happy to hop and off their perch and I have seen them mulling over the meaning of life on it numerous times.
The swing hopefully is Ginger Hen’s new favourite toy and past time! I was a little dubious if either would use it as although they are both only 6 months old, new things are a bit scary! I ‘installed’ the Swing in between two trees that are in the garden. When I say install, I mean adjusted the length of the rope to a sensible height – (again a little lower than it could be but we will raise when they get more confident) – and fixed onto the trunk of each tree so it was level.
Omlet helpfully have a 10 Steps To Swing article on their website which I had a look at and borrowed some ideas before heading out! —> www.omlet.co.uk/files/public/10_steps_to_swing.pdf
This has some really good tips to train your chickens to use the swing without forcing or scaring them. Fortunately my hens are VERY food orientated and will run towards you when you walk into their pen in the hope of some mealworms or other tasty treat! (Spoilt…. erm yes…)
I started with Ginger Hen as I think Speckledy Hen is still a bit too nervous for ‘Swing Training’ – I held the swing still for her and enticed her up with some dried mealworms. She soon got the idea and learnt treats only happen on the swing.
After about 10 mins of hopping on and off I stopped steadying it for her and she wasn’t phased at all. She happily sat there picking bits off the floor that had fallen out of my hand! Speckledy Hen looked on from behind but wasn’t quite brave enough to give it a go!
The Swing itself is really well designed for stability, longevity and for ease of use. The yellow ‘perching’ area is very grippy and looks similar to the surface of a corn on the cob, this gives more grip and makes it easier for the chickens to hold on. The rest of the swing (with the exception of the little metal hooks) is all plastic. This is great for swings out in the elements as there is nothing to rot, rust or perish. Even the rope is a plastic coated braid that’s durable, easy to tie and very strong. If you have your swing hanging from the roof of a coop or run, the yellow cross member (runs parallel with the seat) can go flat onto the roof of your coop to brace and take the weight of the swing – this should stop any droop or downward pull when your hens have a swing!
For anyone thinking about purchasing a swing or a perch then GO FOR IT! Our chickens love their new toys and it has increased the bond we have and made them more friendly! It may be cupboard love as they are after treats but to visitors it looks like the chickens just adore us!
Both items can be purchased directly from Omlet’s website – www.omlet.co.uk – where there is LOTS more toys and treats to choose from!