Campbell, D. L. M., Lee, C. 2021. A perspective on strategic enrichment for brain development: Is this the key to animal happiness? Frontiers in Veterinary Science 8, 720422.
Livestock animals are sentient beings with cognitive and emotional capacities and their brain development, similar to humans and other animal species, is affected by their surrounding environmental conditions. Current intensive production systems, through the restrictions of safely managing large numbers of animals, may not facilitate optimal neurological development which can contribute to negative affective states, abnormal behaviors, and reduce experiences of positive welfare states. Enrichment provision is likely necessary to enable animals to reach toward their neurological potential, optimizing their cognitive capacity and emotional intelligence, improving their ability to cope with stressors as well as experience positive affect. However, greater understanding of the neurological impacts of specific types of enrichment strategies is needed to ensure enrichment programs are effectively improving the individual's welfare. Enrichment programs during animal development that target key neurological pathways that may be most utilized by the individual within specific types of housing or management situations is proposed to result in the greatest positive impacts on animal welfare. Research within livestock animals is needed in this regard to ensure future deployment of enrichment for livestock animals is widespread and effective in enhancing their neurological capacities.