a Farm

Pigs, Sheep, Horses, Birds



Rooting, Chewing, Scratching, Dominant, Submissive, Play, Exploratory

Social Structure

Pigs have a clear dominant, submissive relationship. The females have a matriarchal herd with sows and offspring.  Males can be solitary unless grouped with their littermates.

Abnormal Behaviors

Excessive Aggression, Pacing




gregarious, social, grazing, investigative, fleeing

Social Structure

Sheep have a flock instinct to protect each other from predators.  Flocks consist of a couple males, multiple males and offspring. Ewes stay with the flock for life and males will wander forming other herds.  Males will challenge other males for social dominance.

Abnormal Behaviors

excessive aggression

Sheep enjoy hay as enrichment.  Hay in nets, balls to promote rooting.



Grazing, playing, exploratory, walking

Social Structure

Horses live in herds.  Dominance is controlling movement of peers. Herd consists of one to two stallions and a group of mares and foals. Leader is the older mare.

Abnormal Behaviors

cribbing, weaving, stall kicking, wood chewing, self-biting, eating bedding

Horse Play



Foraging, Pecking, Exploratory, Roosting, Vocalizing, Dusting

Social Structure

Birds are highly social especially during breeding season.
Land birds can be less gregarious, seek isolation during breeding season.

Abnormal Behaviors

Aggression, Feather Pecking, Cannibalism, Excessive, Fearfulness


Enrichment for Farm Animals

Enrichment items that promote rooting such as large balls, edible enrichment such as hay, pecking opportunities such as foraging balls  edible treats and noise making enrichment work best to exhibit their natural behaviors. 


Featured studies related to refinement, enrichment, handling, behavior management, and training techniques.


Join The Conversation

Our AALAE Forum is open to all lab animal professionals with the intent to serve as a think tank for new enrichment ideas, behavior management practices, as well as innovative enrichment/behavior management techniques.  It’s imperative to push the conversation around animal welfare in a positive way.