What do animals want?

Motivation is a central concept for animal welfare; it has inspired methodological breakthroughs and generated a wealth of crucial empirical work. As the field develops beyond its original mandate to alleviate the suffering of animals in intensive farming systems, the assumptions behind the current models of motivation may warrant closer scrutiny. In this paper, I […]

Free food or earned food? A review and fuzzy model of contrafreeloading

Animals will work (e.g. lever press) for [`]earned’ food even though identical [`]free’ food can easily be obtained from a nearby dish. This phenomenon, called contrafreeloading, appears to contradict a basic tenet of most learning, motivation and optimal foraging theories; namely that animals strive to maximize the ratio of reward, or benefit, to effort, or […]

On the use of an automated learning device by group-housed dwarf goats: Do goats seek cognitive challenges?

It has been postulated that implementing appropriate cognitive challenges in the housing of captive animals allows them to use their cognitive skills, and to learn to control certain aspects of their environment. This cognitive activity is thought to be a major source of positive emotions and a prerequisite for psychological well-being of the animal. We […]

The effect of rearing environments on the contrafreeloading phenomenon in rats

Eight naive rats were reared in enriched or impoverished environments for 39 days after weaning and then lived in operant chambers, in which they could obtain food pellets freely or by lever pressing, for 25 or 30 days. The animals raised in an impoverished environment acquired the bar-press response quickly when placed in the operant […]

Effects of Foraging Enrichment on The Behaviour of Parrots

The purpose of this study was to enrich parrot enclosures by creating foraging opportunities appropriate for the species and to investigate the possible preference for a variable versus a constant food supply. The foraging device comprised of a length of wood (2×0.08×0.08m) with 50 holes (0.02m diameter x 0.02m depth) drilled into one face. Food […]

Early life adversity increases foraging and information gathering in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris

Animals can insure themselves against the risk of starvation associated with unpredictable food availability by storing energy reserves or gathering information about alternative food sources. The former strategy carries costs in terms of mass-dependent predation risk, while the latter trades off against foraging for food; both trade-offs may be influenced by an individual’s developmental history. […]