Lockdown Learning Activities: Happy Chickens
When caring for animals in captivity, it is important that all of their needs are met; this includes making sure they have a good diet, fresh water, company (if appropriate), veterinary treatment when needed, shelter, and safety. One of the most important things we have to consider is their ability to perform natural behaviour and how we can encourage this to make sure that they are both physically and mentally happy; not scared, lonely, or bored!
When we change an animal's environment (their home) to do this, we call it Environmental Enrichment. Enrichment encourages animals to use their natural abilities and behaviours to interact with their environment. To be able to do this we have to first learn about the animal, what their natural habitat is like, and what they would spend their time doing in the wild. We can then use this information to create an enclosure and activities that stimulate their senses and encourage these natural behaviours at the sanctuary too.
Think about the things that make YOU happy. Is it your favourite food? Your family and friends? A favourite toy or activity? Now remember, animals are just the same. They are all different but they will all have likes and dislikes, things that make them happy, things that scare them, favourite foods and foods they don't like, other animals they like to be around, activities they like to do... and they even play!
Research chickens and what they need to be happy and healthy. What do they like to do? How do they behave? What do they need to live?
Using what you have learned, imagine that you have been put in charge of designing a new Chicken Enclosure at the sanctuary: What would it look like? How big would you make it? How would you make sure that your chickens were happy living in it? We’d love to see your designs and why you think they would be good for our chickens! Key Points to remember for your enclosure:
It needs to be secure so that predators such as foxes cannot get in.
Our animal keepers need a door to be able to get inside and care for the chickens.
As well as an outdoor area, the chickens need somewhere warm and dry to sleep and rest in - don't forget some cosy nest boxes for them.
Sanctuary visitors need to be able to see the chickens from outside - what will you build your enclosure from that they can see through?
In the videos below you can see some of our rescued chickens at the sanctuary using their dust bath, and scratching/foraging for seeds and insects.