Radio-frequency identification tracking shows individual free-range laying hens vary in range use, with some never going outdoors. The range is typically more environmentally complex, requiring navigation to return to the indoor resources. Outdoor-preferring hens may have improved spatial abilities compared to indoor-preferring hens. Experiment 1 tested 32 adult ISA Brown hens in a T-maze learning task that showed exclusively-indoor birds were slowest to reach the learning success criterion (p
< 0.05). Experiment 2 tested 117 pullets from enriched or non-enriched early rearing treatments (1 pen replicate per treatment) in the same maze at 15–16 or 17–18 weeks. Enriched birds reached learning success criterion faster at 15–16 weeks (p
< 0.05) but not at 17–18 weeks (p
> 0.05), the age that coincided with the onset of lay. Enriched birds that were faster to learn the maze task showed more range visits in the first 4 weeks of range access. Enriched and non-enriched birds showed no differences in telencephalon or hippocampal volume (p
> 0.05). Fear may reduce spatial abilities but further testing with more pen replicates per early rearing treatments would improve our understanding of the relationship between spatial cognitive abilities and range use.
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