Animal Welfare: Choose Enrichment Your Chickens

The implementation of enrichment in breeding is particularly promising To stimulate animals and satisfy behavioral needs that are essential to their well-being.

The enrichments on the market today meet the four categories of needs that must be taken into account in order to optimize the welfare of chickens: exploration, resting, dust bathing, being able to shelter in order to rest. The preference for enrichments with several functions (exploration, perches, resting place) could be an adequate solution in breeding. The multi-criteria analysis of the devices tested shows the importance of mixing behavioral goals in order to give chickens the opportunity to perform the entire behavioral repertoire. This is the case with bales of straw. According to the breeders we met, this enrichment is inexpensive and makes transplanting easier if the bundle has been destroyed by the animals.

Allow sitting

“Platform” perches seem best to meet the sleeping space requirements of chickens. Access to wide areas, facilitated by gently sloping ramps, promotes balance in fast-growing chickens with a larger keel shape. The platforms provide a better quality of recreation by allowing the chickens to stay away from the circulation of congeners. The possibility of using the platform above and below, where animals like to hide, also increases the space available in the building.

The platform perches are stable for the chickens, they have an access ramp to make it easier for the animals to climb © Itavi

The breeders are pleased that this enrichment is used. “It makes me happy to see them seated. We can see that they like it “, said one. ” At first I was a little skeptical, but in the end chickens love complete a second. You can’t deny that. It is used all the time. Search. We don’t even see the gates, there are so many crouching chickens ”. However, breeders find weight and cleanliness to be major disadvantages.

Allow exploration

The materials that appear to be most effective in stimulating exploration are those that are chicken degradable. : Chopping blocks, string and bales of straw. Unused enrichments or those left quickly by the animals were identified: chains, balloons, bags with pellets surrounded by plastic.

It is necessary to privilege objects that the chickens can modify and degrade. “The strings cost me absolutely nothing and that is an additional asset” notes one of the interviewed farmers.

Chickens play with degrading objects like string. © Itavi

Allow dust baths

The “dust bath” is a basic need which reflects a well-being and good plumage quality. Chickens do these baths when they have access to a dry, crumbly substrate with fine particles. Offering tanks filled with sand or fine wood chips is a good solution in breeding.

Chickens enjoy dust bathing in suitable substrates. © Itavi

Add vertical fields

The addition of solid vertical walls gives the chickens preferred resting areas. “They tend to lie against the panels, like the sides of the building.” The panels break up the monotony of a building, the chickens find their way better and can lean against this surface to have a better rest.

Chickens prefer to lie on vertical slab walls. © Itavi

Find out more

This field study aimed to propose the best solutions Promotion of the welfare of the animals and of the breeder, taking economic constraints into account.

In order to identify and evaluate the accumulations, behavioral observations of standard chickens and interviews with breeders were combined.

To access the information sheets, go to www.itavi.asso.fr.

Don’t frustrate the chickens

Chickens, like other animals, have innate species-specific behavioral needs and expectations that they naturally express throughout the day and throughout their lives.

Allowing them to express these behaviors makes it possible to satisfy that innate motivation and avoid frustration and / or discomfort that could lead to physiological disorders such as chronic stress.

The repertoire of natural behaviors includes, above all, running freely, pecking, scratching the floor, interacting with fellow members of the same species, flapping wings freely, grooming or resting and sleeping.

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