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Variability of laying hen behaviour depending on the breed

  • Kozak, Agnieszka (Institute of Biological Basis of Animal Production, University of Life Sciences in Lublin) ;
  • Kasperek, Kornel (Institute of Biological Basis of Animal Production, University of Life Sciences in Lublin) ;
  • Zieba, Grzegorz (Institute of Biological Basis of Animal Production, University of Life Sciences in Lublin) ;
  • Rozempolska-Rucinska, Iwona (Institute of Biological Basis of Animal Production, University of Life Sciences in Lublin)
  • Received : 2018.08.31
  • Accepted : 2018.11.29
  • Published : 2019.07.01

Abstract

Objective: For many generations, most species of farm animals have been subjected to intense and strictly targeted selection for improvement of their performance traits. This has led to substantial changes in animal anatomy and physiology, which resulted in considerable differences between the current animal breeds and their wild ancestors. The aim of the study was to determine whether there is breed-specific variability in behaviour as well as differences in emotional reactivity and preferences of laying hens. Methods: The investigations involved 50 Green-legged Partridge, 50 Polbar, and 50 Leghorn hens. All birds were kept in the same conditions, and the behavioural tests were carried out at 30 weeks of age. We used the tonic immobility test and a modified open-field test including such objects as water, commercial feed, feed enriched with cereal grains, finely cut straw, and insect larvae, a sandpit, a mirror, and a shelter imitating a hen nest. Results: The research results demonstrate that the birds of the analysed breeds differ not only in the excitability and emotional reactivity but, importantly, also in the preferences for environment-enriching elements. Ensuring hens' well-being should therefore be based on environmental modifications that will facilitate acquisition of essential elements of chickens' behaviour. The greatest emotional reactivity was found in the Leghorn breed, which may be a result of correlated selection aimed at an increase in chicken productivity. Conclusion: The differences in the behaviour of the birds from the analysed breeds indicate that laying hens cannot be regarded as one group of animals with the same environmental requirements.

Keywords

Laying Hen;Behavioural Test;Breed

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