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Effects of Hatching Time on Behavior and Weight Development of Chickens
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biology. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biology. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2014 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 9, no 7, e103040- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The length of the embryonic period varies both among and within species and can affect the individual phenotype in many ways, both physiologically and behaviorally. In chickens, the hatch window may last 24-48 hours (up to 10% of the incubation time), and studies have shown that incubation length may affect post-hatch growth and physiology. However, little is known about effects on behavior. We therefore investigated how behavior variation correlates with hatching time in the early life of chickens. We also measured egg weight and egg weight loss in relation to hatching time, as well as post-hatch growth. For females, there was a negative correlation between hatch time and body weight from day 4 and throughout the experiment. For males, such a correlation was only observed when testing all hatched males up until day 10. The birds were exposed to a number of behavioral tests, and a principal components analysis was performed on the variables, resulting in four components. For the largest component, termed "Passivity, a tendency of a difference was found between early and middle male hatchers. Furthermore, a significant difference between early and middle male hatchers was found in the second component, termed "Response to novelty. In a spatial learning test, late hatchers tended to learn slower. The behavior of females was not significantly affected by hatching time in any of these tests. This study is among the first to demonstrate a link between time of hatching and early behavior in a precocial species like the chicken, and may help shedding light on the evolutionary trade-offs between incubation length and post-hatch traits. The results may also be relevant from a perspective of stress coping and therefore also for animal welfare and productivity in the chicken industry. The mechanisms linking hatching time with post-hatch phenotype remain to be investigated.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Public Library of Science , 2014. Vol. 9, no 7, e103040- p.
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-111296DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103040ISI: 000341354800055PubMedID: 25058654OAI: diva2:755291

Funding Agencies|Swedish Research Council; Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas); European Research Council

Available from: 2014-10-14 Created: 2014-10-14 Last updated: 2014-10-16

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