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Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 547897
Title Feather pecking phenotype affects behavioural responses of laying hens
Author(s) Eijk, J.A.J. van der; Lammers, A.; Rodenburg, T.B.
Source In: Proceedings of the 52nd Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology. - Wageningen, The Netherlands : Wageningen Academic Publishers - ISBN 9789086863228 - p. 169 - 169.
Event Wageningen, The Netherlands : Wageningen Academic Publishers - ISBN 9789086863228 ISAE 2018, Charlottetown, 2018-07-30/2018-08-03
Department(s) Behavioral Ecology
Adaptation Physiology
WIAS
Publication type Abstract in scientific journal or proceedings
Publication year 2018
Abstract Feather pecking (FP) is a major welfare and economic issue in the egg production industry. It involves hens pecking and pulling at feathers of conspecics, thereby negatively aecting welfare. Behavioural characteristics, such as fearfulness, have been related to FP. Although many studies have identied dierences in fearfulness between lines that dier in FP, the relationship between actual FP behaviour (i.e. FP phenotypes) and fearfulness is not well understood. erefore, we compared responses of birds with diering FP phenotypes to several behavioural tests at young and adult ages. We used birds from a genetic line selected for high feather pecking. FP phenotypes of individual birds were identied via FP observations at 3-4, 12-13, 15-16 and 28-29 weeks of age. e total number of severe feather pecks (SFP) given and received over two subsequent weeks was used to categorize birds as feather peckers (P, SFP given >1), feather pecker-victims (P-V, SFP given and received >1), victims (V, SFP received >1) or neutrals (N, SFP given and received 0 or 1) at each age point. Birds were tested individually in a novel environment (NE) test at 4 weeks of age, an open eld (OF) test at 15 weeks of age and a tonic immobility (TI) test at 13 and 28 weeks of age. Experimenters were blinded to the phenotypes. Data were analysed using linear mixed models, with phenotype and batch as xed factors and pen as a random factor. Test time was added as a xed eect for the NE and OF test. Experimenter was added as a xed eect for the NE and TI test. Testing order was included as a xed eect for the TI test. Phenotype eects were tested for each behavioural test and age separately using the most recent FP phenotype categorization. FP phenotype aected the number of ight attempts (F3, 119=3.18, P<0.05) during the NE test, where victims showed more ight attempts compared to neutrals (V=2.3 vs n=1.6; P<0.05) and tended to show fewer ight attempts compared to feather peckers (V=2.3 vs P=2.7; P<0.1). FP phenotype further tended to aect step frequency (F3, 75=2.64, P<0.1) during the OF test, where feather peckers tended to walk more compared to neutrals (P=24.6 vs n=15.7; P<0.1). No FP phenotype eects were found for the TI test. Feather peckers tended to show more active responses (i.e. tended to show more ight attempts compared to victims and tended to walk more compared to neutrals), which could suggest lower fearfulness, compared to victims at 4 weeks of age and compared to neutrals at 15 weeks of age. ese ndings give rst indications that FP phenotypes seem to dier in fearfulness. It should be noted that we only found dierences in the NE and OF test, where behavioural responses could also be related to activity or coping style. Further research is needed to identify whether FP phenotypes dier in activity and whether they can be classied into dierent coping styles.
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