How To Keep A Hen Happy

Did you know that happy hens lay more eggs?  It's true.  They also make a delightful clucking noise and run to see you when walking near their run.  We live in an area that is preadotor rich with bears, mountain lions, hawks, eagles, foxes, coyotes and that doesn't even mention the friendly family companions that would like to make a snack out of our flock; thus they only get out of their fenced yards when we are there to watch over them.  Life can get a little dull in a fenced yard.  The answer?  Cabbage on a string.

Materials:  Cabbage, Cutting Board, Knife, String

 Flip the cabbage over and cut a "X" through about 1/3 to 1/2 the head.  If you cut too far the string will go right through the cabbage.  If you already did that don't worry.  The girls will still eat it, but you won't get as much joy out of watching it happen.

Loop the string through in one direction, twist and then loop it through the other direction.  A little common sense will get you through this step.  Just remember to make your loops fall away when the cabbage is out to avoid accidentally hanging a hen (sorry, but I had to say it.  I can't be responsible for the carnage.)

After assembling your cabbage balls tie the string off to a cross brace or rafter in the coop or yard at hen head height.

My girls didn't know what to make of it at first, but when our brave little bottom of the peck order hen gave it a test peck and came away with a prize the fun was on.  With each peck the cabbage swung back and forth and I laughed out loud as I watched little hen heads follow it back and forth waiting for a peck.  Our older flock destroyed it in a day, but the younger girls took almost a week.  

It works great with raw corn on the cob as well.  I'll definitely be doing this in the coops this winter when it gets too cold for them to go out and forage.  Remember, happy hens lay more eggs and cabbage is cheap (check your local farmer's market for their off cast fresh vegetables - we picked up a huge crate last week that were freshly picked, but not "consumer quality - i.e. split or nearing over ripe).