More enrichment for farm animals

by Sharon Kutsop

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More Enrichment for Farm Animals

Enrichment tips and tricks for caring for farm animals in a shelter or rescue groups.

Enrichment for Farm Animals – Birds

At one point or another, it is a reasonable possibility that you may end up with farm birds in your organization’s care. If it does happen, here are some pointers for different types of fowl which you may be housing. If handled from a young age, chickens, turkeys and ducks can become well socialized to people. Since fowl are often high-stress animals, brief exposure to humans is a nice, calm way to introduce them to life with people.

Chickens and turkeys both prefer access to perches to roost on. This is both for the natural instinct of safety from predators as well as to provide an escape from the other birds they are housed with. Before installing perches, do a little research because different breeds prefer perches at different levels. A nest box is highly valued by all laying hens, no matter what the breed. Ducks will swim if provided with a pool of water, but be careful as ducklings can easily become chilled and run a higher risk of drowning. When used under proper conditions and supervision, bathing water maintains healthy feather conditions for ducks.

enrichment for farm animals turkey timmy

Timmy the turkey is available for adoption from Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in NY

Enrichment for Farm Animals – Sheep and Goats

Sheep and goats are rather similar in their preferences. They are both very social herd animals and often live together. If you find yourself with only one in your care, a safe, unbreakable mirror may help them feel calm by creating the illusion that they are not alone. They tend to view their reflection as an unknown individual, causing them to feel better protected from predators. If possible, chains can be hung from the ceiling for them to play with and maneuver.

They are also easily entertained with large livestock balls or plastic jugs hung from above the surface of the pen. If you are able to gain access to them, mechanical feeders (where they need to engage by pushing to get food) can be a source of enrichment for them. Goats are climbers and it is important to feed that natural instinct to scale objects. Something as simple as a bench can do the job, but make sure to inspect it to be sure no hooves or legs can get caught or injured and that wherever it is placed won’t allow them access to escape or reach anything that can be harmful. Inspect anything you put in the pen for sharp edges. Ensure it is strong enough to not be chewed apart, eaten or swallowed. Also check to ensure all objects are non-toxic and can be adequately cleaned.

enrichment for farm animals sheep Zorro

Zorro the sheep is available for adoption from Pasados Safe Haven in WA


For enrichment tips on other farm animals, you can also visit this article