Laying hens selected for low mortality: Behaviour in tests of fearfulness, anxiety and cognition

Feather pecking and cannibalism in chickens can lead to injury or to death of the victims, and is thus a serious welfare and economic issue in modern poultry farming. A sib selection scheme has been initiated to genetically select a low mortality line (LML), which shows decreased mortality due to cannibalism compared to a control […]

Novelty-evoked activity in open field predicts susceptibility to helpless behavior

Learned helplessness in animals has been used to model disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but there is a lack of knowledge concerning which individual behavioral characteristics at baseline can predict helpless behavior after exposure to inescapable stress. The first aim of this study was to determine behavioral predictors of helplessness using […]

Persistent effect of incubation temperature on stress-induced behavior in the Yucatan banded gecko (Coleonyx elegans)

Although variability in behavioral traits within animal populations is well documented, the mechanisms maintaining that variability are still insufficiently known. In this study, we examined whether differences in thermal environment during egg incubation can permanently organize nonsocial behavior across different contexts and situations in a lizard species. We incubated eggs of the Yucatan banded gecko, […]

Associations between open-field behaviour and stress-induced hyperthermia in two breeds of sheep

In sheep (Ovis aries) and other farm animals, routine husbandry procedures can cause negative emotions, such as fear, which are generally considered to reduce animal welfare. The open-field test (OFT) is the most widely used test to measure fearfulness in animals. The induction of psychological stress is often accompanied by an elevation of core body […]

Testing for the presence of coping styles in a wild mammal

Coping styles represent alternative response patterns in reaction to a stressor. The coping style model provides a set of predictions about correlations between behavioural and neurophysiological reactions to a stressful situation. According to this model, high levels of activity should be correlated with high levels of aggressiveness at the behavioural level, and to high sympathetic […]

Plumage damage in free-range laying hens: Behavioural characteristics in the rearing period and the effects of environmental enrichment and beak-trimming

Severe feather-pecking, whereby birds peck at and pull out the feathers of other birds, is one of the greatest welfare concerns and the most prevalent behavioural problem in laying hens. It can be extremely difficult to control, especially in non-cage laying flocks. Despite a multitude of studies on the topic, the principal underlying causes remain […]