chick intellectual development

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by sjrogers, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. sjrogers

    sjrogers Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 15, 2013
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    Okay, maybe the psychologist in me is taking over, but I am now wondering if an enriching brooder environment would make for smarter chickens? I just got my new little chirpies after having to leave my flock behind in Texas due to relocating to Wyoming last fall. I have always observed that my chickens enjoyed playing with safe cat toys (plastic balls with bells inside) and natural items (sticks, etc) in their run. This time, the baby girls get excited and peck my wedding ring and fingernails when I put my hand in their brooder. I decided to put some ceramic Japanese chicken shaped dishes (white with red and black spots) in with them. They are so curious about them! Are there any animal behaviorists in this forum or anyone who has experimented with different brooder environments? What have you used? I have noticed over the years that the more time I spend with chicks, the more bonded they are to people. I am wondering if the more stimuli they are exposed to when young, the more their tiny chicken brains develop.
     
  2. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I am not a animal behaviorist and I have not experimented much with different environments but I have worked on simple training exercises. They are fairly easy to clicker train and I have been able to get young chicks (2-3 weeks) to learn their names and come when called with decent consistency (and lots of mealworms).

    My problem has been the "teenager" weeks. They seem to forget everything they learn and go wild for a bit and are then easy to train again once they reach laying age. I have also trained my adult hens to use a treadle with minimal effort so they are definitely capable of understanding that things continue to exist even when they can not see them. Perhaps interactive elements like that could help?

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/building-a-treadle-chicken-feeder

    Let me know what you find out!
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2013
  3. sjrogers

    sjrogers Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 15, 2013
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    LOL! Just like human teenagers! (I am mother of 5 and step-mother of 3). Of course you are an animal behaviorist if you are using behavioral techniques like clicker training and positive reinforcement. Interesting that chickens can develop "object permanence." Piaget thought human infants did not develop this ability until the end of the sensorimotor stage (though other research found infants develop this much earlier).

    How soon can they eat meal worms?

    Thanks for the tips! I will keep you posted.
     
  4. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2012
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    I generally start giving them a few of the smaller worms when are they a few days old. They don't always eat them the first try. But they tend to pick them up and carry them around with interest.
     
  5. LauraNJ

    LauraNJ Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 20, 2013
    With large parrot babies I always put in baby toys, like the large rings and toys meant for infants and toddlers that were strong and able to be cleaned easily.

    We have toys with our rabbits also and they play, even by themself. They will fling their ball, pick up toys, etc. We also give fresh fruit branches for them to chew on which they love.

    With our barred rock chicks I put some baby toys in there. So far they are not really playing though, not like the baby parrots. THey do peck at them and one toy makes a little noise which I think they like the cause and effect.

    Great question, glad I am not the only one who thinks about this.
     
  6. TheStewarts

    TheStewarts Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 21, 2013
    My 2 year old keeps giving our chicks toys... they seem confused. But our older (11weeks) girls were pecking each other a while back so my husband left stuff for them to play with and no more pecking.
     
  7. sjrogers

    sjrogers Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 15, 2013
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    What kind of baby toys did you use for the chickies? I found a little round ball that they enjoy hopping on, and some cat toys with bells enclosed -- nothing that they can pick apart or eat. They seem to move the toys from one end of the brooder (an oblong stock tank) to the other. They also show varying degrees of interest in pecking on different surfaces (I know pecking is an instinctive and reflexive behavior), but it almost seems as if some of them enjoy pecking for the sound it produces.
     
  8. akchick76

    akchick76 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 28, 2013
    Alaska
    Mine enjoy pecking at the cardboard that is covered in duct tape that acts as a bridge between the brooders. It gives a hollow sound and they just peck at it, constantly. They don't try to pick at the duct tape, I think they just enjoy the sound.
     
  9. sjrogers

    sjrogers Out Of The Brooder

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    Cool! I just read something that indicates the following: Although chickens lack neocortex (the part of our brains that looks wrinkly), they do have sophisticated brain tissue in paleocortex that permits hemispheric lateralization. This means that their little bird brains permit advanced cognitive capabilities such as memory, learning, and socialization.

    I also remember reading somewhere last year that they have an advanced visual system, including four types of color receptors (to our three) giving them the ability to view stimuli in the ultra violet range of the spectrum. I am going to see if I can get my hands on a book by Lesley Rogers (1996) called The Development of Brain and Behavior in the Chicken. Has anyone read this? I will let y'all know if it has interesting info when/if I can find it.
     
  10. sjrogers

    sjrogers Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 15, 2013
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    Hey, AKchick -- what a great idea! Duct tape is tough enough not to shred and it's shiny.

    How is Alaska? I used to live there about 24 years ago and loved it! Good training for living in Wyoming (where we just moved from oven-like Texas). I'm trying to get used to the idea of raising chickens in an icebox.
     

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