Enhancing their quality of life: environmental enrichment for poultry


Providing environmental enrichments that increase environmental complexity can benefit poultry welfare. This Poultry Science Association symposium paper is structured around four themes on 1) poultry preferences and affective states 2) species-specific behavior, including play behavior and the relationship between behavior, activity level and walking ability, 3) environmental enrichment and its relationship with indicators of welfare, and 4) a case study focusing on the application of enrichments in commercial broiler chicken production. For effective enrichment strategies, the birds’ perspective matters most, and we need to consider individual variation, social dynamics, and previous experience when assessing these strategies. Play behavior can be a valuable indicator of positive affect, and while we do not yet know how much play would be optimal, absence of play suggests a welfare deficit. Activity levels and behavior can be improved by environmental modifications and prior research has shown that the activity level of broilers can be increased, at least temporarily, by increasing the environmental complexity. However, more research on impacts of enrichments on birds’ resilience, on birds in commercial conditions, and on slow(er)-growing strains is needed. Finally, incorporating farmers’ expertise can greatly benefit enrichment design and implementation on commercial farms.



animal welfare, chicken, environmental complexity, environmental enrichment, turkey