Exercise for Hens

In my home library, I have a small volume, The Biggle Poultry Book. It was first published in 1895, but there is much wisdom in it for today’s chicken keeper. In the chapter, The Village Hennery (how wonderful is that phrase!) Mr. Biggle states, When confined in small yards they become unhealthy and unproductive.

I have a collection of these agriculture books from before the era of confinement and antibiotics. They all espouse the value of exercise for hens. My Girls agree.

foraging under trees


Mr. Biggle discusses the differences in the energy level and roaming needs of the various breeds. Active breeds require higher fences. How true! The other day, Misty made her way halfway up the beech tree. She clambered down before I could get a photo. But here is Twiggy, who stayed on the ground because she was so busy eating grass and bugs. It didn’t take long for her crop to fill. That is a satisfied and healthy hen..


Note: I found my copy of the Biggle Book on EBay. A reproduction is available through Amazon, as are original copies.


  1. We have serious bobcat issues in our area so we can’t let our chickens out in the yard. What can we
    do to keep them healthy and happy?

  2. Oh my goodness I really want that book!! I love old books and old chicken books are the best!!! Thanks for posting the link. I’ll have to check it out :D

  3. My husband always laughs at me when I comment on how tired the hens will be at night after a busy day of foraging around in the yard.

  4. It is amazing how fast they can fill up on grass and bugs they seem to find that I couldn’t with a magnifying glass.

  5. I am fortunate that my Girls have a run approx. 130′ x 30′ which has a area of trees/shrubs, spare ground and a large area of lawn part of which we keep mowed and part is left to grow with wild flowers, they seem to get plenty of exercise running around and hunting.
    Twiggy really does look good with her very white feathers, upright tail and amazing dark red comb :)
    Terry your Biggles book does it have a Blue or a Orangey/Red cover they seem to have both on ebay?

  6. This is a real thing, apparently, so you can “walk” your chicken. Other manufacturers add a d-ring to a chicken diaper so you can embarrass your hen twice over. I’m not sure what I would do if I saw someone “walking” their chicken, diapered or otherwise.

    • Sue, I know you wouldn’t do this, but I deleted the link, because I don’t want to generate any publicity for this product. Chicken diapers and leashes are just plain wrong. It’d be funny if people didn’t take them seriously!