Saturday, July 20, 2013

Happiness Sunny Side Up

Earlier this summer a research review published by the University of Bristol called "The Intelligent Hen Study" summarized years of experiments that quantify what flock owners know, chickens are smart.

The long of the short is chicks can count higher higher, have better self-control, and superior spatial awareness than human toddlers .  They also recognize symmetry...the free form builder in me wonders what they think of the coops I make....

From The Guardian UK June 19, 2013 According to a new report, chickens appear to be much more intelligent than previously thought, with better numeracy and spatial awareness skills than young children. "The domesticated chicken is something of a phenomenon," Christine Nicol, professor of animal welfare at Bristol University, told the Times. "Studies over the past 20 years have revealed their finely honed sensory capacities, their ability to think, draw inferences, apply logic and plan ahead."  

My hamster-speed computer was not able to find the original research online but here's the most detailed article I came across.

The research review was underwritten by international free-range egg producer Happy Egg Company to help guide facility development.  

I'm very curious about what Happy Egg will do with the information and how their facilities will address flock enrichment.  While this may seem odd, awkward, and impractical in the eyes of the battery cage industry, I'm sure follow up research will happen over the next few years.  Sparky's Related Article on Friendships in Commercial Flocks

 Happy Hens Company's Natural Hen Habitat   (Out of detest for common industry practices I have resisted the urge to point out all the reasons why a nicely manicured park-like setting with a flock of genetically identical birds really doesn't look very natural. However, you should visit their website, it's actually quite interesting!)

And, BTW -  In 2011 Vegetarians International Voice for Animals (VIVA!) called out Happy Egg Company, salaciously documenting something else flock owners already knew -  chickens poop...and they die...and when they're little they need more supervision, and when they're older they need to leave the work force.  I wasn't shocked by VIVA's findings; I was terrified by how little people know about the reality of the food they eat. Photoshop may be able to hide those bare spots scratched into the carefully mowed pasture by Happy birds looking for tasty treats, but all the digital manipulations in the world won't take away the fact that people actually expect those to be completely real.

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