Enriching the living environment of animals with, for example, distraction material stimulates natural behaviour and can therefore have a positive effect on their welfare. That enrichment must, of course, be safe and meet the needs of the animals. For example, chickens want a perch for resting and pigs like to root and investigate.
The experts at Wageningen Livestock Research not only investigate which enrichment is preferred by animals, but also whether environmental enrichment works as a buffer against stress and makes the animals less anxious. For example, will animals with environmental enrichment show their normal behaviour sooner after being captured to weigh them?
Perch and free range for chickens
Regular, fast-growing broilers are soon too heavy to reach a perch. They can use a platform, which they can reach via a staircase. The design of a free range area that meets the needs of the animals also requires the necessary attention. By nature chickens are forest birds, afraid of foxes and birds of prey. A good free range area therefore offers shelter. It is also important that the transition from inside to outside, from dark to light, is not too strong, so that it doesn't scares the broilers to go outside.
Water quality and tank enrichment for fish
In aquaculture, water quality is the most important aspect for welfare and health. If this is well tailored to the species-specific welfare needs of fish, a fish farmer can keep his fish under optimum conditions. This benefits both the welfare of the fish and the efficiency of the production process. Just as with farm animals, a species-specific tank enrichment contributes to a good balance between the welfare of fish on the one hand and optimum production on the other.
Buffer against diseases
Environmental enrichment also acts as a buffer against diseases. Read more about this on our page about resilience.
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