Environmental enrichment strategies are used to improve the physical and mental well being of captive animals. They are aimed at increasing opportunities for birds to engage in natural behaviors; thus decreasing potentially harmful, abnormal behaviors, such as severe feather pecking.
Increased foraging activity
In the wild, birds spend the majority of their day foraging for items to eat. This is why poultry instinctively seek opportunities to explore their surroundings. For chickens, it consists of scratching at various ground substrates, and for ducks it is dabbling in shallow water. To mimic this natural behavior, it is necessary to come up with ways to slow down food intake by making it more challenging to find or obtain.
Increase or enhance living space by adding various ‘furniture’ to the environment, or different subtrates. It can be as simple as adding a straw bale or as extensive as designing a poultry playscape (‘playground’). Incorporate multiple visual hides/blinds in order for flock members to have places to hide and get away from other birds.
Chickens, ducks, and other poultry are actually much smarter than what society has made them out to be. Training chickens to perform tricks is accomplished by following the same fundamental principles of operant conditioning that are required for any animal---rewarding the desired behavior with positive reinforcement (presenting the chicken with a favorite treat).