Chickens are social birds. They like to roost together. During the day they’ll hang out together in a dirt bath and gossip and kvetch. Hens will cavort with roosters and lead them on. But they also like to get away and be by themselves. They will meander off into the woods or deep into the pasture all on their own.
I read an article in Modern Farmer by Tyler LeBlanc titled Virtual Reality for Chickens – Is this the future of free range? According to the article, Austin Stewart, a young assistant professor from Iowa State University, has designed a virtual world chickens can see by wearing a Oculus Rift headset. He’s even set up a website, Second Livestock, where he discusses his ideas of giving caged or confined animals the experience of being outdoors by wearing virtual reality headsets.
It makes me wonder if either Tyler LeBlanc or Austin Stewart have even seen a live chicken. The experience of being outdoors on pasture and in woodland, is much more than just seeing those things. It is about touching the tall grass, feeling the brush, scratching the dirt with their toes, pulling earthworms out of the ground, and hunting down a field mouse. And with headsets on, how in the world are these chickens going to preen themselves?