Chickens Love To Dig Holes – And What I Did About It…

My chickens (pullets) began digging holes the very first day in their coop run. Today, months later, they just dig bigger and deeper holes!

In fact it became a problem. Because for some reason they liked to dig right along the edges of the run’s sill plate (The pressure treated 2×4’s lying on the dirt forming a foundation for the run’s fenced-in structure).

It was driving me nuts. They kept digging along the board perimeter (on the inside of the run). Thus the integrity of the structure would eventually diminish as they dig the dirt right out from under it!

I kept on filling it in with more dirt. But that just encouraged them to dig even more! Ughh…

HOWEVER, I beat them! I mean, no I didn’t “beat” them – but I stopped the digging at the perimeter.

How? I lined the inside with bricks. HA! Good luck with that you sneaky chickens!!

So now, at least when they dig, it will be away from the sill plate. So, no more problem. Happy me – Happy chickens.

Three months ago, first day in the coop / run. Digging holes and rolling in the dirt.

Evidently chickens love to dig holes and roll in the dirt. Why? Because it helps keep them free of parasites, mites, lice. It’s a natural instinct.

They dig the hole and then flop around in it. It’s funny to watch. Looks like they’re having a convulsion or something… Then when they’re finally done, they stand up and shake all their feathers — erupting into a dust-ball as the dirt shakes out.

They now have several favorite spots for digging out in the open-range area.

It’s so funny when you’re working inside the run. Chickens are so darn curious. They’re constantly all around you – wondering what you’re doing… Anyway, I took the opportunity to also rake out their old pine shavings and dump in new. Oh happy chickens…

Oh, and I got them a new water feeder. I hung it off the bottom of the coop. That way it’s higher off the ground, and hopefully they won’t get pine shavings in there! They love it!


  1. Chickens are looking good and big! (don’t know if that’s because of the camera, what do they say “the camera adds 10 lbs. to your picture?)).

  2. Ken, the picture at the top looks like their REALLY into digging. Do you have them digging you and the Mrs. an underground shelter? LOL.

  3. If you put a pile of dirt in the middle of the pen, they will level it and maybe fill the holes they dug. It works sometimes.

  4. We will just be starting with chickens out here. A friend is moving and giving us her chickens. We had chickens in Alaska I guess we can do them here. If it is to much work we will have chicken dinner for a while!

  5. Just shake a bag of KFC 11 herbs and spices in front of them and tell the chickons keep up ladies and see what happens…😉

    Good to see the chicks doing well.

    1. if they slow down or stop laying….feed the chili or jalepeno peppers….they not only LOVE them, but it jump starts production again. TRUE.

  6. Very clever idea with the bricks, plus it looks ‘landscaped’. I learned that the rule for watering chickens is to keep the waterer at chest height. (Theirs, not yours!) It’s easier for them to get a drink, and it keeps the water clear of debris. Looking good!

    1. Farm girl
      How do you keep the water from freezing in the winter? My girls kick shavings into their water so it would be great to hang it. Doable in the summer, but I use a heated platform in winter.

      1. Gopher – In the winter I use a waterer with a heated base. It looks just like a regular one, but has a coil in the base and plugs in. Instead of hanging it, I just set it up on a solid block, large enough to stabilize the waterer and at the right height.

        [ Heated Chicken Waterers on amzn ]

        1. Got one! Just easier to use it year round as a pedestal. (unplugged in warm weather)

    2. Farmgirl
      We used to have trouble with debris and kaka in the water also.
      I found these nipples that can be attached to a bucket.( We use a 5 gallon square with lid)
      Got them on the internet years ago. They are great!! Put the bucket on a cinder block and they can’t knock it over and no more mess. Replaced the bucket once but the nipples are still working great.
      Couldn’t tell ya the name but search chicken watering nipples.

      1. Thanks for the tip, MadFab. I’ll take a look at that. I wonder how they’d do in freezing weather?

        Sounds like you had a great trip. Good to step out of the troubles of the world for a bit. Maybe leaving your phone behind wasn’t such a bad thing!

        1. Farmgirl,
          Not too sure about ongoing freezing weather for the chicken nipples. We get about 2-3 weeks of super cold weather here in PNW.
          Because ya use them on a plastic bucket, I would think you could adapt it for the cold, maybe.
          Yes we had a super great time. Leaving the phone home was very nice, just missed txting and talking to friends and no photos on my phone. Used hubby’s and got many good ones.
          Not sure my bachelor brother will be so forthcoming with another invite for an extended time. Lol!! He was totally overwhelmed by day 3 with the noise and excitement of 4 boys !!
          Real eye opener for him. But a wonderful time was had by all!!
          Hope your boys and you are doing well.

  7. Ken
    That hole in the picture at the top of this page.
    What kind of chickens do you have to dig a hole like that?

    Very imoressive!

  8. I am not an expert on chickens but I wonder if coarse gravel put at the edges of the run might prevent digging.

    Just a thought

  9. I had to put up a escape proof dog pen some years ago.
    For the interior I dug around inside the fence all the way around about 3 to 4” deep and buried that cheap plastic coated garden fence 1 1/2′ wide all the way around the inside.
    It worked, the dane kept trying but hit fencing everywhere and eventually stopped.
    I just covered the exposed area’s with a shovel full of dirt and ignored it till the next attempt.

    1. Similarly, I have buried chicken wire (on the outside – to keep predators from digging in). It extends outwards 2-feet all around the perimeter. Buried about 2 inches deep.

      I have noticed the hens had attempted to dig along the outside perimeter of the pen – until they hit wire and stopped! It has worked successfully on the outside as far as digging right at the pen’s structure. They seemed to have gotten the hint…

  10. Tonight’s my chicken comment night :-) I had the same problem and the girls just ruined an area that I fenced off while growing new seed. I actually put in new smaller kiddie pools with a mix of dirt and some DE added exactly where they used to dig. They haven’t used the pools and now just have dug their holes around the pools, digging up the new grass.. They never do what you expect them to…..

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