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Digital Subscriptions > Chickens > CC and Playgrounds > ENViRONMENTAL enrichment

ENViRONMENTAL enrichment

Bust boredom and boost natural behaviors in your flock by thinking like a zookeeper.

Imagine that you lived your entire life in a confined area — say, a 500-square-foot room. Imagine that, within this room, somebody served you the same food every day at the same time. Imagine your furniture was bolted to the floor and your few possessions never changed. Imagine you always saw the same view, smelled the same scents, heard the same sounds. You’d probably get bored, wouldn’t you? You might even go a little crazy.

The old saying “Variety is the spice of life” doesn’t apply only to us humans. Though they can’t express it in words, animals living in confinement often show their boredom, anxiety or depression in ways we recognize. A lion paces a concrete zoo enclosure. A dog howls and chews up its kennel. A cooped chicken constantly picks on its lock mates.

But what if these animals had changing opportunities each day to exercise their minds, senses and bodies?

What if, for example, you let the lion stalk a big plastic ball, gave the dog a puzzle toy to extract kibble from and sent the chicken searching for tasty mealworms scattered in the straw? While their boredom might not vanish, research shows that — in many cases — problem behaviors such as the ones mentioned would decline.

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