The domestication effects on social support in chickens (Gallus gallus)

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Linköpings universitet/Institutionen för fysik, kemi och biologiTekniska högskolan


When animals are stressed they use a trait called social support to alleviate their stress responses. With domestication many traits from the ancestor red junglefowl have changed in the domesticated breed white leghorn. White leghorns are bred to be able to live in large groups where it becomes hard to recognize every chicken. They are therefore not as dependent of familiar stimuli birds for social support as red junglefowl. Our hypotheses were that red jungle males would be more interested in unfamiliar stimuli birds than white leghorn male before stress due to their territoriality. We tested total 56 chickens in an open field test. The test arena was divided in three zones and the time the focal birds spent in each zone was recorded. The focal bird was recorded in 300 seconds before being stressed by being suspended in a net and then recorded again in 300 seconds. The results showed that social support and social behaviour differs between females and males for both breeds. No significant differences were found between the breeds. There was a tendency for significant of breed (P=0.08) effects in the central zone unstressed. The two interactions before stressed between breed and sex, central zone (P<0.01) and unfamiliar zone (P<0.01) had significant effects. We observed fights between white leghorn males and familiar stimuli. Waltzing did also occur in red jungle males in front of unfamiliar. In conclusion, numeric differences can be seen but not large enough to be significant and our hypotheses are not confirmed.

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