Effects of domestication on food deprivation-induced behaviour in red junglefowl, Gallus gallus, and White Leghorn layers

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Christina Lindqvist, Jenny Lind, Per Jensen
Animal Behaviour
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Domestication and selection for high production have selected animals with less energy-demanding behaviour. In the natural environment of the ancestors, fitness (reproductive success) is often favoured by an ability to locate and remember food sites, whereas in captivity, fitness may be more related to the ability to grow and reproduce efficiently under stable food conditions. We hypothesized that domestication and selection for production traits have caused animals to react less actively to food shortage. In this experiment, 26 red junglefowl (RJF) and 27 White Leghorn layers (WL), the latter selected for high egg production, were exposed to 0, 3 and 24 h of food deprivation while housed in furnished cages. After food deprivation, we quantified the bird’s behaviour, in a series of tests. Birds of both breeds performed more foraging-exploring, less preening behaviour and less perching with increasing length of food deprivation. However, when tested in a group, RJF showed a more active response than WL to food shortage by reducing perching time and increasing the foraging and exploration time on the ground, which may be interpreted as a more risk-prone behaviour. Furthermore, when tested individually, there was a breed effect on response in the open field and the novel object tests, where RJF were more cautious than WL. The results may reflect different feeding strategies: the behaviour of RJF would probably be more adaptive in a natural environment, while the behaviour shown by WL may allow more investment in production traits in a more predictable environment.


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