Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cheep -n- Easy DIY Chicken Boredom Buster Toy!



By Leigh -
Yesterday when my family went to the grocery store, I spied a neat little seasonal special - popular soft drinks in little, round bottles that can be used as Christmas tree ornaments. And of course just like any other normal chicken obsessed wacko person, my first thought was, "Chicken Toy!"




This project is about as inexpensive as it gets and only takes a few minutes to create. This is the perfect boredom buster for penned chickens... though I have to say, my free-range flock has been playing with their toy for hours now!

Step 1: Empty the bottle and rinse thoroughly. You can actually make this kind of toy with any of the single-serving plastic soda bottles, plastic peanut butter jars, plastic mayonnaise jar, squeezable honey bear bottle, etc.  - I just thought this round one would be even more fun to use.


Step 2: Take the plastic outer wrap off of the bottle. The neat thing about these little seasonal bottles is that the outer wrap has a perforation which makes it very easy to remove.


Step 3: Use a 1/4" drill bit to drill about 5-10 holes into the bottle. Before you submit your project to the Nailed-It meme base, just know that only the coolest people will end up with a mashed monster of a project at this stage.

OK - so I'm not Martha Stewart...

When your inner creative genius hands you squished lemons, find a stick and poke them into lemonade!


I found a stick with a part of a branch coming off the end which gave it a bit of an "L" shape. I inserted it into my squashed mess of a DIY project and got things straightened out a bit.


 It doesn't have to be perfect! After all, you are going to throw it into your chicken yard.

***Update - some wonderful folks have commented to suggest filling about 3/4ths of the bottle  with water and freezing it prior to drilling (be sure to leave the cap off) - the ice inside will prevent the bottle from being crushed when you drill the holes. Thank you, readers!***

Step 4: Put some scratch and some dry feed into your chicken toy...


 And let the fun begin!





So - I spent $1.00 on a cute little round drink bottle and turned it into a toy that my chickens have not left alone since I put it outside about 7 hours ago (as of the writing of this article). That's not a bad return-on-investment if you ask me!

When one chicken looses interest, another comes right up and starts rolling it around until treats fall out. This toy is currently about 50 feet from where I originally set it down in the yard. The chickens can see the treats inside the bottle which keeps them trying to find a way to get those treats out.

So if you are worried about your flock not having enough to do, give this a try. I'm sure your chickens will love it as much as mine do.

 


- Leigh
 
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Comments

66 comments:

  1. Awesome! I love the photos of your chickens playing with the toy. Their expressions are priceless.

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  2. really nice! tip: if you put sand in it before the drilling, it will not dent as much!

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    1. If you fill it with water and freeze it before making the holes it will be easier.

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    2. Or you can just heat up a nail with the flame from a gas stove and pierce holes.
      King feeds make a chick scratch that would be really good in this. Also, Helen's Best makes a very small lay pellet. Yes, I work in a feed store. LOL

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    3. I like the sand idea.. and the nail one too... the ice is a good idea too but then you have to get it dried out before you put scratch in it or it will just get icky...

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  3. .. or you could freeze water in it before drilling...

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    1. Another great idea! And the ice wouldn't all run out when you are drilling the rest of the holes. I'm definitely going to do that next time I make one of these!

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    2. This is something I will have to try...

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  4. absolutely will do this!

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  5. I can see this entertaining cat's as well.

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    Replies
    1. Sure! You could put catnip in one of these, though you might want smaller holes for that. Or - bigger holes for cat food.

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  6. Neat idea!!! One suggestion. Fill the ball with sand before drilling and it won't collapse.

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  7. can you give chickens suet blocks you buy for wild birds?

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    1. In general, yes you can... but it also depends on the ingredients in the suet block. Too many sunflower seeds aren't good for your chickens and peanuts aren't good for them either.

      You can also make your own suet cakes - it's actually quite easy. Check out our article on it HERE.

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  8. Use a soldering iron to melt holes instead of drilling them.

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    1. A super idea for all those who own a soldering iron! Thank you.

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    2. You can actually do it with a heated nail, as well ^_^

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  9. I'm sooo doing this for our chickens!!! How awesome!! Thanks!! :)

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  10. :D I like that better than the ones you buy because you can see through it! Now I have to go buy pop (can't remember the last time I bought a pop..)

    Oh, and can you tell I'm from the north? I think you "southerners" call it soda :D

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    1. LOL - OK, so just buy a 'drink' in a sturdy clear plastic bottle. Who knows what liquid wonders may lurk in otherwise unremarkable plastic containers?

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  11. Hahahahaha, I will do this for my chooks.lol

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  12. Awesome! Thanks! I'm so doing this.

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  13. Well, I learned two things today. 1. How to make a new toy for my chickens and 2. The sunflower seeds and nuts that my rooster loves isn't good for them. (?) I do only give it to them as a treat, but my next thought was if I put the some sunflower seeds and nuts in the bottle, and the rest scratch or feed it will keep them busy and interested for a very long time! Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Think of sunflower seeds and nuts as cupcakes for your chickens. They do love them, and it's fine to give those foods sometimes, but too much can cause obesity and eventually organ failure in roosters. In hens it can cause the same things, but first you will see issues like egg binding. Too much fat can make it hard for eggs to pass through the vent.

      The other thing is that sunflower seeds and nuts would require larger holes in the toy, but that would allow the rest of the scratch to fall out too easily. Perhaps just use plain scratch and feed in the toy and give the nuts and seeds to them other times?
      Just my 2 cents - :-)

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  14. Okay...I have to disagree on the sunflower seeds. And this is a friendly dissent... :D

    Much of the info out there on feeding them is based on the MEAL which is what remains after oil extraction. In that form it's not a very good/healthy or natural choice.

    But, according to U of KY: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/Nutrition-Sunflower_seeds.html
    "It is also possible to include whole sunflower seeds in poultry diets. Research has shown that whole sunflower seeds can be included at up to 30% of layer diets with no adverse affects on hen performance. Hens fed diets containing sunflower seeds, however, give eggs with a significantly reduced color score (i.e., they look pale) and a significant rise in yolk cholesterol content.

    When the seeds are ground, they can be included in broiler diets up to 50%."

    I also don't worry about fat level if they are getting a good amount of meat protein in the form of insects or other meats. ANIMAL BASED fats and proteins are not known for producing fat around internal organs...carbohydrates are.

    Unfortunately what we feed our chickens is predominately carbohydrate based which causes a great deal of internal problems.

    We can discuss this more on the forum....and you can remove it from here if you want! :D

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    Replies
    1. LOL - remove it? No - the whole purpose of NCK is to find out all angles of every issue, and you always have such amazing information to share. Thank you!!

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  15. Hope that you find out sunflower are ok, also, no peanuts? I don't give often but ALL my girls love them and some are quite picky...

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    1. Roberta - see Leah's Mom's post 2 above yours - some good information on sunflower seeds!

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  16. If you want to drill holes without smooshing the bottle: Put water in bottle and freeze it. Then drill. The drill makes a clean hole. It's also safer so you can hold the bottle more firmly. Of course you have to wait for the ice to melt....or microwave. But this really works well. I use it to make planters with plastic bottles.

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  17. Fill the bottle with the seeds first, then drill. Or use sand. Yeah, sand. Empty it out after drilling so the chickens don't eat any plastic shreds.

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  18. Fill it with water and Freeze it before you drill the holds in it. Drill when frozen and the water will run right out.

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  19. I love this! Thank you for sharing .

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  20. Excuse me, but a soda from Coca-Cola no matter how they bottle it is bad for your health and bad for the environment.

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    1. John - I'm not a fan of plastic, but I am a big fan of recycling. Think of this as a way to recycle. I'm certainly not asking anyone to buy a soda, but I think (sadly) most of us can find plastic bottles discarded almost anywhere. If you would like to make something for your chickens, why not stop on the side of the road and some up - this way you are helping the environment AND creating something for your chickens. Any old single-serving plastic bottle will do.

      Also, as far as drinking a soda, note that I stated, "Step 1: Empty the bottle and rinse thoroughly." The sink is one way to empty the bottle. :-)

      Have a great day!

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    2. Coke is bad for you, yes! However, it is GREAT for cleaning toilets!

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  21. John, we are assuming that the nasty soda contents would be poured down the drain--just want the bottle. : )

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  22. you are just mean... lol

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  23. I have a friend who just got some chickens this summer - the hens are now laying eggs! I bet she'd love this! How creative are you!!! Love it!

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  24. Going to look for one of these pop bottles! Great idea!

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  25. But my chickens are never bored! They have bunnies to chase away from their food, cats to chase away from THEIR food, goats to chase because they have nothing else better to do and waking me up at 3am which makes them very happy! Of course I'm going to try it because I know my Donkey will love to push them around! HA! www.addieacres.wordpress.com

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  26. What a cool idea! Must try a bigger version of this with my turkeys, too...

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    1. charlene.dowdy@yahoo.comDecember 5, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      Neatest idea /// I am going to try this /// Thanks charlene

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  27. I don't have chickens, but my friend does.... this will be their Christmas present......

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  28. Hi! RavensTrove here, new chicken mom. ;) I don't have an account figured out yet.

    My friend sent me this link and I LOVE it! I've been looking for an idea to keep the girls more active this winter. And, it's recycled!!!! Plus, thanks to all the informative posts. I will certainly be checking in often! Great blog.

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    1. Welcome to the Natural Chicken Keeping blog - we are so glad to have you visit. You can subscribe for updates simply by putting an email address if you like - we'd sure love to have you come back!
      Leigh from Natural Chicken Keeping

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  29. soldering iron or hot nail held with pliers will make quick holes...

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  30. Put the feed in the bottle first and THEN drill it. Roll the bottle so the weight of the feed is over the drill.

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  31. Love this idea and will certainly try it!

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  32. but...chickens don't get bored if you have given them the proper environment to live in. Instead of spending their time pecking at food you bought...why not have them do what they do naturally...and peek all day on bugs and grass. just as fun and they feed themselves! Toys for bored chickens, what next...

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    1. I agree with you, however the reality is that not everybody is able to free range their chickens as I do. This blog is for ALL people who wish to keep chickens in the most chemical free way possible... no matter if they are lucky enough to live on a farm, or if they have chickens in a suburban back yard with limited space or free ranging capability.

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  33. Great Idea!! It includes recycling (if you drink the soda to begin with) and a super idea for my chicken (alas only one now)...can't wait to try it...I don't have a drill so the hot nail idea works for me!!

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  34. I was so excited to try this! I froze the water inside as suggested, and it worked...kinda. I still ended up with shards of plastic around the edges of the holes. Well, I thought I could clean those up well enough after I was done drilling and got the water melted out. But then, I tried to put a couple larger holes in it and the whole bottle cracked open! :-( Of course, now those bottles are no where to be seen! Does anyone know where I can still find them???

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    1. Sorry, Heidi - they don't seem to be available any more. :( Why not try it with another small plastic bottle?

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  35. I made one within the first week or two after your post. The lowest girl in the "order" has totally figured out how the scratch ball works. I had such a good time, today, watching her "concentrate" on making those grains come out! Thank you so much for thinking of this and sharing with the rest of us.
    Mel

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    1. Aww... Mel, you're so welcome! I'm glad your flock is enjoying their toy! I'll be stocking up on those little round bottles next year. My current one is battered beyond recognition... but still much loved by the flock.

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  36. chicken obsessed wacko person?
    my wife & are like that....lol

    This is a great idea!! TY for posting.
    if the chickens love it, and I see they do, I wonder if my guinea birds would enjoy it also? hmmm, ducks? geese?
    My creative brain just went into over drive.... :)

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  37. plastic jars have been widely adopted as packaging materials for beverages, detergent and other consumer goods. Compounds such as polyethylene terephthalate have given plastic jars several advantages, including toughness, energy savings and ease of production.

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  38. Love it! Maybe my roster stop crowing all the time with this!!

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  39. Thank you so much for this great idea! Totally making this soon!

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  40. use a hot nail to penetrate the hols

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