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Social versus exploration and foraging motivation in young red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) and White Leghorn layers
Department of Animal Environment and Health, Section of Ethology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skara, Sweden.
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biology. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2003 (English)In: Applied Animal Behaviour Science, ISSN 0168-1591, E-ISSN 1872-9045, Vol. 84, no 2, 139-158 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Social coherence tendency is an important behavioural characteristic in young fowl related to an underlying social motivation that can be modified by breeding. Our aim was to investigate if selection for productive traits in a certain White Leghorn layer strain has influenced different components of social motivation compared to the ancestor, red junglefowl. From both breeds, 29 chicks were tested between 4 and 7 weeks of age in four behavioural tests designed to study social motivation. A runway test was used to measure social reinstatement behaviour. Social coherence tendency versus foraging motivation was measured in both novel and familiar environments following 0 and 3 h food deprivation. The novel environment was an L-shaped social versus foraging arena and the familiar environment was identical to the chicks’ home pens. Both included stimulus birds in a box and food at opposite ends of the test arenas. Furthermore, spacing behaviour of groups consisting of three chicks was observed in a novel pen. The runway test revealed a stronger social affiliation in junglefowl when the social contact had first been reinstated. In the social versus foraging arena, junglefowl moved more whereas Leghorns spent more time immobile. These differences were greater with 3 h food deprivation. Deprivation and breed had a significant interaction resulting in more time spent feeding by junglefowl but not by Leghorns. Contrary to this, in the familiar pen, Leghorns responded to deprivation by feeding more and keeping longer distance to the stimulus birds than junglefowl. In the novel pen, Leghorn chicks had shorter nearest neighbour distances than junglefowl. The results indicate that the adaptability of the birds to their social and physical environment may have been influenced by means of selection for increased production capacity. Leghorns from the studied strain may have greater problems in adapting to a new environment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2003. Vol. 84, no 2, 139-158 p.
Keyword [en]
Coping, Junglefowl, Production, Selection, Social motivation, White Leghorn
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-46428DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2003.07.001OAI: diva2:267324
Available from: 2009-10-11 Created: 2009-10-11 Last updated: 2012-12-05
In thesis
1. Characterisation of social behaviour in red junglefowl and White leghorn laying hens: phenotypic and genetic studies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Characterisation of social behaviour in red junglefowl and White leghorn laying hens: phenotypic and genetic studies
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The objective of this thesis was, by using two model strains of chicken, red junglefowl and White Leghorn layer, to study differences in social behaviour of the species that could be derived from domestication and production related selection processes. The social phenotype characterisation was done to be able to further study the association of the social differences to specific production related traits as well as to certain genome areas in intercross and backcross lines generated from these two parental populations.The first part of the thesis covers phenotypic differences between the two parental stocks in social motivation (sociality), social discrimination ability and preferences as well as the dynamics of aggression and hierarchy establishment under unstable social circumstances. These features are crucial for the coping of fowl in its social environment. The underlying social motivation and related characteristics were measured first in chicks, while the fourth study was designed to investigate if the social motivation differences across the breeds would persist into adulthood and if so, would correlate with various production related traits, as growth and egg production, in the F3 progeny. The last paper analysed the effect of genotype along a domestication linked Growth1 QTL on some of the social behaviour differences. The behaviour tests revealed a consistent breed specific behavioural difference, which was linked to the novelty and stressfulness of each test situation. The junglefowl chicks behaved in a manner that is considered to be adaptive in the wild; they for instance explored and foraged more in the novel environment. Conversely, the Leghoms appeared more fearful and showed a higher level of attachment to familiar companions in the tests. These breed specific behaviour patterns persisted over age and correlated also with several production related traits in the F3 progeny. Even though selection for egg production has affected the social behaviour only on a quantitative level (frequencies and intensities) the dynamics of aggression and hierarchy establishment differed remarkably between the breeds when studied in unstable groups; Leghoms responded to regrouping with greater aggression and had more difficulties to adapt to strangers. The genetic study in the last paper revealed a link between social motivation and exploratory behaviour and two adjacent marker areas within the Growth1 QTL, indicating at least two involved genes in this area. The conclusion of this thesis is that social motivation, which is considered to underlie most social behaviour traits in fowl, has been influenced by selection for high production in the studied White Leghom stock in comparison with junglefowl. Furthermore, the found breed differences seem to segregate together with some production related traits in an advanced intercross generation, and to be associated with a QTL-region, which has been suggested to play an important role in the domestication of chickens.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet, 2005. 62 p.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 970
Red junglefowl, social behaviour, behaviour tests
National Category
Natural Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-30343 (URN)15880 (Local ID)91-85457-24-8 (ISBN)15880 (Archive number)15880 (OAI)
Public defence
2005-10-19, Sal Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Linköping, Linköping, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-10-09 Created: 2009-10-09 Last updated: 2012-12-05

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