Is the rotarod test an objective alternative to the gait score for evaluating walking ability in chickens?

Walking ability is related to motor co-ordination which, in rodents, can be assessed by an established test in pharmacological studies — the rotarod test. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a modified rotarod test for chickens and its relation to the often-used gait score system. At the end of their rearing period, we […]

Behaviour of domestic fowl in anticipation of positive and negative stimuli

Underlying the study of animal welfare is the assumption that animals experience emotional states. Although there has been a bias towards studying negative emotions, research into positive emotions is necessary for an overall welfare assessment. The aim of the current study was to find behavioural expressions specific for anticipation of different events in domestic fowl, […]

Use of space in the domestic fowl: separating the effects of enclosure size, group size and density

An understanding of how confined animals move within the space available to them is essential in the design of effective captive environments that maximize animal welfare. In addition to the obvious effect of enclosure size, other factors such as the number of individuals in the group and their density per unit of area are likely […]

Can domestic fowl, chicken, show self-control?

An important aspect of cognition is whether animals live exclusively in the present or can anticipate the future. Defined as self-control, the ability to choose a large, remote reinforcer over a small, proximate reinforcer available at the same frequency has been examined in a number of species, often proving difficult to demonstrate. We investigated self-control […]

Effects of domestication on filial motivation and imprinting in chicks: comparison of red junglefowl and White Leghorns

Domestication has been reported to reduce learning ability and to alter social behaviour. We compared the development of filial behaviour of domestic chickens, Gallus gallus domesticus, and the ancestral red junglefowl, Gallus gallus. We investigated the tendency of naïve chicks to approach conspicuous stimuli, as a measure of filial motivation, and the development of a […]

Olfaction in the Domestic Fowl: A Critical Review

It has been known for some time that many species of birds, including domestic fowl Gallus domesticus, have an olfactory sense. However, the functional significance of avian olfaction is less clear. We review neurobiological, embryological and behavioral evidence relevant to the question of how domestic fowl use the sense of smell. Evidence suggests a potential […]

Feather pecking in poultry- the application of science in a search for practical solutions

Traditional battery cages for laying hens will soon be banned in the EU but the increased risk of feather pecking (FP) hampers the adoption of alternative housing systems. FP can cause injury and lead to cannibalism and the painful death of target birds. Current management practices (beak trimming, low light) have associated problems. In a […]

Short- and long-term movement patterns in complex confined environments in broiler chickens: The effects of distribution of cover panels and food resources

In captivity, the positioning of structural enrichment and food resources influences behavior and space use. The aim of this experiment was to examine the influence of cover panels and the positioning of food resources on the movement and space use of domestic fowl (Gallus gallus domesticus). Eight groups of 45 male chickens were used for […]

Do hens have friends?

Recent interest in positive welfare has encouraged consideration of the formation of socio-positive relationships in farmed species which may provide a means by which to manage positive states. We investigated in detail the existence of dyadic preferential associations in small groups of domestic laying hens. Spatial and temporal associations were examined in two contexts (day […]

Behavioural and physiological responses of laying hens to automated monitoring equipment

Automated monitoring of behaviour can offer a wealth of information in circumstances where observing behaviour is difficult or time consuming. However, this often requires attaching monitoring devices to the animal which can alter behaviour, potentially invalidating any data collected. Birds often show increased preening and energy expenditure when wearing devices and, especially in laying hens, […]