How to Make a Chicken Swing
Toys for chickens alleviate boredom and may give your hens a place to escape roosters.
Do you need to know how to make a chicken swing for your flock? They have a large run, a substantial and well-built coop, and plenty to eat. When you watch your chickens as they forage and interact, it appears they are always busy. Chickens are inquisitive and love to investigate a new structure in the coop area.
Giving your chickens new activities helps alleviate boredom in the coop and run. When chickens are bored, they tend to get cranky with each other, pecking and even attempting to escape the run. Pecking order issues can be reduced when adding activities for the flock. If your hens are picking on some of the flock, they may be bored. Adding a chicken swing might be just what the flock needs. If they like it, consider adding more than one swing to the chicken run.
When you make a chicken swing, it gives the hens another place to go when avoiding the overly amorous rooster. I have noticed that some of my hens hide on the roost in the coop to avoid the rooster. Swings added to the run keep the chickens outside and reduce coop waste cleanup.
Build Your Flock a Chicken Swing
The first step when you make a chicken swing is to choose the base for the swing. I love to use things found in nature, so I am demonstrating with a slab of wood. This is the side cut from a log that is made into boards. Commonly used as firewood, the slabs have one rounded side that may retain some bark and a smoother, cut side underneath. I wondered if the rough bark side would be more comfortable for the chicken to grasp. Other items you could use for the base include a strong branch cut from a tree or foraged from downed limbs, or a scrap piece of lumber. Choose a base that is between 18 and 24 inches wide.
Sturdy rope will also be used to hang the swing. If you have other farm animals, baling twine might be an abundant recycled resource on your property. I am always looking for ways to reuse all that baling twine. If not, purchase a sturdy rope from the building supply or hardware store.
The tools required are simple and readily available. A power drill with a large drill bit is used to make holes for the rope. You might need a saw if you need to cut the base of the swing to a certain size.
- Four lengths of ¼-inch rope. I used five-foot length. This will vary depending on how high the support is for the swing.
- Drill bit two sizes bigger than the rope diameter, for the power drill.
- Board, sturdy log or slab of wood as shown. I used an 18-inch length.
- Two snap hooks (optional) for hanging the swing. This makes it easier to clip to an overheard support using two large eye hooks. You can also simply tie the rope to the overhead support.
Step by Step Building Instructions for a Chicken Swing
Place the swing base on a solid surface or work bench. Using the drill, make two holes in each end of the base. Refer to the photos. Using two holes instead of one, when using a wide base, lends more stability to the swing. Too much movement when the chicken gets on the swing may cause the chicken to be fearful of the swing.
Cut four pieces of rope. Measure how long the rope needs to be to reach the support for hanging. Add extra length for the knots. I used five-foot lengths of rope for this swing. Push the rope ends through the holes in the swing base. On the underneath side, tie a knot to keep the rope from coming back through the hole. Repeat for the other three holes.
Once all four ropes are secured to the base, tie two ropes on each side together a shown.
After the knots are tied as you like, it’s time to hang the swing. Keep the base of the swing no higher than three feet off the ground. Jumping from higher distances can be hard on the chickens’ feet and legs. Repeated jumping from high distances onto hard and rough surfaces can cause internal abscesses called bumblefoot.
Do the Chickens Like the Swing?
After you make a chicken swing for the coop, you will hope that your chickens will enjoy it. Chickens are naturally curious. While you were building the chicken swing, a few chickens most likely came by to check out the project. They make good project supervisors. What if, after all the work, the chickens refuse to use the chicken swing?
Here are a few ideas to try, if your flock is wary of the new boredom buster you provided.
- Pick up one of your friendly chickens and show her the swing. Talk soothingly and maybe have a chicken treat ready to sweeten the deal.
- Place a few pieces of chicken treats on the swing. Let the more curious and brave chickens find these. Repeat this step as often as you like. The swing needs to be associated with good things.
- Place a few chicken treats on the swing. Now place one of your friendly, docile hens on the swing. Hopefully, she will find a treat and decide to stay a while. But if not, continue with occasional treats and attempts. One day you will walk by and see a hen sitting on the swing, enjoying the afternoon sun.
For more do-it-yourself projects, check out my latest chicken care book, 50 Do-It-Yourself Projects for Keeping Chickens (Skyhorse Publishing 2018). It is available in the Countryside Bookstore.
Originally published in the August/September 2019 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.