|Goat enrichment device: Soccer ball, wooden stand for climbing with secret hay hideaways, and a pvc tube for hiding grain.|
As with all captive animals our domestic species at the barn need lots of attention and daily care to ensure that they have healthy enriching lives. Part of our job as interns as you read from my last post is cleaning up the stalls and pens where the animals live; but that isn't all we do!
Each group of animals has daily enrichment that they are given to stimulate them in different ways (physically, cognitively, sensory etc.) The barn staff, myself included is in charge of creating and maintaining enrichment for the animals on a weekly basis and making sure that it is appropriate for the species but also the individuals (example chickens get mad at the color red, and our goats will try to climb on things so we have to make sure anything we put in with them is sturdy).
Sometimes enrichment can be built into an animals enclosure (for example our pigs have their own wading pool, all of our hoof stock have hay feeders, and the texture of the outdoor pastures can also be enriching to all of our animals).
|One of our goats standing near an enrichment device placed out in a pasture. They love to climb on this and the baby goat kids can fit inside the litter door.|
This week we gave our chickens a tube filled with grain that we poked holes in! They all were very interested but they didn't quite figure out how to use it; sadly we left the tube out in the rain and it was less than waterproof!
We also gave our used previously made goat enrichment devices that consist of wooden platforms with PVC pipes, and brushes attached to them. The pipes are filled with grain that the goats have to work to get and the brushes are great for scratching up against. The wooden platforms are awesome for all the goats to climb on!
|This is the enrichment device without any food added to it. It provides a great place for the goats to perch and jump from. They can also scratch themselves on the bristles.|
|This is the the same enrichment device outfitted with natural edible branches!|
Our Pigs can be a bit tricky they are really food motivated but they are also very destructive so if something is between them and food it will most likely be destroyed; the good news is the pigs have a blast tearing things apart!
|This is our pig pen inside we have a bunch of things that we rotate in and out. Pictured here are a soccer ball and a plastic tube.|
The barn crew has the most fun figuring out fun enrichment for our rabbits; this week we made some simple enrichment devices out of cardboard tubes and hay string. We hung the tubes and filled them with hay grass, and grain. The rabbits are loving the new cage addition!
|This is Ziggy checking out her enrichment ladder (we refill it every day with her usual amount of hay and grass that we used to just leave on the floor of her cage)|
|This is Ziggy digging in her dirt pan. When Maizey has the dirt pan she likes to use it as a litter box, and when Indy has it he likes to jump in and out of it all day.|
Our sheep are a bit tricky to please they are very wary of new things and so we have to be really thoughtful about what we put in their space. We decided on a paper mache hay ball. The sheep at first were a bit frightened of the new toy but soon one brave sheep investigated and discovered the treats inside in less than a few minutes the ball was torn to bits and the sheep were happy as could be.
Make sure if you have animals in your care that you are meeting their needs not just in terms of food and sanitation but also in terms of enrichment; it only takes a few minutes to really give animals a good time!