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Fearfulness Not Correlated with Feather Pecking

by 5m Editor
23 December 2010, at 9:40am

NETHERLANDS & DENMARK - In a collaborative project between the Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre of the Netherlands, ADP and Denmark's Aarhus University, Bas Rodenburg and colleagues studied whether divergent selection on high and low feather pecking affected fearfulness in these selection lines. The work is summarised in Wageningen University's <em>Animal Breeding & Genomics</em> newsletter.


This study was published in the December issue of Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

In previous studies on different lines, it was found that birds that were more fearful were more likely to develop feather pecking. In the Danish lines, no line differences in fearfulness were found, although line differences in feather damage were as expected: the most feather damage occurred in the high feather pecking line. It was found that cages that avoided the novel object in a novel object test had more feather damage to the back.

These results suggest that although relationships were found between feather damage and fear response at cage level, lines divergently selected on feather pecking behaviour do not differ in their fear responses. Divergent selection on feather pecking may have altered pecking motivation rather than fearfulness.