If you have five dollars (or less if you can repurpose things you already have) and about five minutes, you can make a cute hanging treat feeder for your chickens to help beat the winter blahs. Fill it with scratch, seeds, cereal, grains (even their regular feed) and they will have a ball trying to grab a bite.
Boredom can cause pecking, feather eating and other behavioral issues in your flock, and winter is the prime time for boredom due to a lack of grass, weeds and bugs for your chickens to find. A hanging feeder like this will keep them amused - trust me - and it's very amusing to watch.
Here's what you will need:
A wooden embroidery hoop (any size will work)
A piece of old window screen (just a bit larger than the hoop)
Four feet of chain
Three small eyehooks
A metal ring (like a key ring)
Wire or string (optional)
Cut the screen into a circle 1/2" larger than the hoop
Sandwich the screen in between the two hoops, trim any excess and tighten the screw to secure
Twist the three eyehooks in between the two hoops, equidistant apart from each other
Cut the chain into three pieces - two 12" lengths and one 24" length. Open an end link on each length with the needle-nosed pliers and then attach one to each eyehook.
Open the opposite ends of the two shorter lengths and attach to the middle of the longer piece of chain to make three equal-length 'legs', leaving a 12" length at the top.
Using the keyring and carabiner, hang the feeder from the top of your run (using string or wire for additional length if you need to), so the feeder hangs about 6-8" off the ground. Fill with scratch, seeds, cereal, grain or another dry treat, stand back and watch the fun.
~idea adapted from the Kid-Friendly Bird Feeder featured in Birds & Blooms Magazine~