Author(s): Hocking PM, Channing CE, Waddington D, Jones RB
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Abstract 1. Two lines of commercial hybrid layers (Tetra and ISA Brown) were reared from hatch to 30 weeks of age in groups of 8. The objectives of the experiment were to evaluate the significance of the different selection practices involved in the development of the lines and to assess the potential association between selected behavioural states and the potential for feather damage and cannibalism. 2. Behavioural tests related to fear (tonic immobility, novel object, open field), sociality (runway, proximity in the home pen) and pecking (feather bunch and focal observations of inter-bird and environmental pecking) were conducted at 0 to 2, 5 to 7, 12 to 14, 19 to 21 and 29 to 31 weeks of age. Scan sampling of general behaviour was also conducted at these ages. 3. Underlying sociality was greater in Tetras than in ISA Brown hens. 4. There were no apparent overall strain differences in fearfulness although ISA Brown hens showed significantly longer tonic immobility fear reactions than Tetras at 31 weeks of age. 5. ISA Brown hens gave and received more gentle pecks than Tetra hens whereas preening was commoner among Tetras. There were no strain differences in the number of pecks at litter or food. 6. As birds aged they showed less avoidance of novel objects and Tetras, though not ISA Browns, showed progressively shorter tonic immobility responses. Birds of both strains spent less time resting, more foraging (pecking and scratching) and pecked more at the feather bunch at older ages. 7. Measures taken in the TI, open field, runway (social affiliation) and feather bunch tests were stable over time whereas focal observations of pecking at hens and the environment were not. 8. Factor Analysis showed that 3 factors defined by the novel object test, environmental pecking and pecking ata feather bunch explained most of the variation in the correlation matrix between summary measures for the 8 behavioural traits.
This article was published in Br Poult Sci
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Toxicology