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New York (AP) – How do you measure a chicken’s happiness? Is it in the way it runs for food? How much time it spends preening?

To size up what might make chickens happy, researchers in Canada are putting 16 breeds through some tests. They’re watching how well birds scramble over a barrier for food, how skittish they seem and whether they play with a fake worm.

They say playing with a fake worm may be a sign of happiness.

Researchers say it’s an example of looking beyond how to minimize suffering to exploring whether animals can also enjoy their brief lives.

Such ideas underscore the broader lack of consensus around chicken welfare.

Animal welfare advocates think today’s chickens have been bred to have massive breasts that harm their health and that the industry needs to switch breeds, not just treat chickens better.

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