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Red jungle fowl have more contrafreeloading than white leghorn layers: Effect of food deprivation and consequences for information gain
Swedish Univ Agr Sci, Dept Anim Environm & Hlth, Sect Ethol, S-75007 Uppsala, Sweden.
Swedish Univ Agr Sci, Dept Anim Environm & Hlth, Sect Ethol, S-75007 Uppsala, Sweden.
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Zoology . Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2002 (English)In: Behaviour, ISSN 0005-7959, Vol. 139, 1195-1209 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Contrafreeloading (CFL), i.e. choosing food which requires work over free food, occurs at a higher rate in red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus) compared to White Leghorn layers. We examined whether this difference between breeds was altered by food deprivation and whether it affected the information gained about alternative food sources. In a first experiment, twenty birds of each breed were deprived for zero, three and six hours and then allowed a choice of feeding from freely available food or food mixed with wood shavings. In both breeds, CFL tended to decrease after deprivation, but jungle fowl consistently showed more CFL than Leghorns also after food deprivation. This shows that differences in CFL between breeds were not altered by food deprivation, and the larger CFL in jungle fowl may represent a genetically based difference in feeding strategy. In a second experiment, we examined whether the differences in CFL affected how the birds acquired information about alternative food sites of different quality. Twenty birds of each breed were allowed to forage during three 10 min sessions in a four armed maze, where symbols in each end of the arms indicated the location of four different quality food sources, 'high gain' (freely available food), 'medium gain' (70% food, 30% wood shavings), 'low gain' (30% food), and 'no gain' (100% wood shavings). Each bird was then tested in the same maze when the 'high gain' food source and its symbol had been removed, and the other three sources contained only the symbols and wood shavings. Jungle fowl chose the symbol indicating the best available food source significantly more often than the Leghorns. The results indicate that Leghorn gain less information during foraging, which may have consequences for their adaptation capacity in a production environment. This could either be a consequence of Leghorns showing less CFL, or a generally impaired learning capacity of Leghorns compared to jungle fowl.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. Vol. 139, 1195-1209 p.
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-48342DOI: 10.1163/15685390260437335OAI: diva2:269238
Available from: 2009-10-11 Created: 2009-10-11 Last updated: 2010-01-13
In thesis
1. Domestication effects on foraging behaviour: consequences for adaptability in chickens
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Domestication effects on foraging behaviour: consequences for adaptability in chickens
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The main aim of this thesis was to study domestication effects on foraging behaviour in chickens and to investigate whether and how domestication and selection for high production have influenced adaptability in chickens. Two domestic strains of chickens (egg layers and meat type chickens) and their wild ancestor, the red jungle fowl (RJF) were compared in different test situations with respect to foraging behaviour and adaptability. The domestic strains showed a modified foraging strategy, where they were less inclined to explore and feed from a hidden food source, i.e. they showed less contrafreeloading (CFL, the behaviour of working for food even though identical food can be easily obtained) than RJF. The difference in CFL between RJF and the layers were not altered by food deprivation, which suggests that the lower CFL in the layers represents a genetically based difference in feeding strategy. In addition, CFL decreased with age in RJF and layers and social isolation decreased CFL in RJF. Furthermore, when foraging, RJF acquired information about the quality of different food sources, which was utilised after a change in environmental conditions. Contrary to this, layers gained less information during foraging and showed an impaired spatial learning ability compared to RJF, and in this respect, layers showed a lower degree of adaptability. Chronic stress impaired the learning capacity of both breeds but RJF seemed to be overall faster to learn to locate food in a spatial learning task. Furthermore, stressed RJF started to eat faster in the spatial learning test than non-stressed RJF, and contrary to this, stressed layers showed a more passive response by prolonging the time to start feeding compared to non-stressed layers. This indicates a more active response to stress in RJF than in layers. Similarly, when RJF and layers were exposed to food deprivation, RJF showed an active response by increasing their time spent on foraging behaviour. The general results in this thesis most likely reflect different adaptive strategies, where RJF appear to be better adapted to a stochastic environment, and the domestic strains to grow and produce egg in a more predictable environment. The findings are in accordance with the resource allocation theory, which suggests that animals selected for high production are expected to reallocate a high proportion of resources into production traits and hence fewer resources might be left to other biological processes, e.g. exploratory behaviour. Selection for high production seems to influence the ability of chickens to cope with a changing environment, which may have implications for the welfare of chickens in a production environment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institutionen för fysik, kemi och biologi, 2008. 37 p.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1164
Etologi, chicken, domestication effects, behaviour, red jungle fowl (RJF), contrafreeloading (CFL), egg production
National Category
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-11237 (URN)978-91-7393-969-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-03-28, Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2008-03-11 Created: 2008-03-11 Last updated: 2010-01-13Bibliographically approved

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