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Influence of early environmental experience on development of pecking behaviour in chicks

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Author(s): ZHANG Si-He | BAO Jun

Journal: Acta Zoologica Sinica
ISSN 0001-7302

Volume: 54;
Issue: 6;
Start page: 955;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: Early experience | Environmental condition | Chicks | Pecking behaviour

ABSTRACT
An experiment was carried out to investigate the sensitive imprinting period and the influence of early experience on feather-pecking behaviour of young chicks. The experiment included 8 treatment-groups: one group of chickens (0F) were reared on sandy floor during the whole experiment period (0–14 weeks); one group (0P) were reared on barren floor; three groups were reared on barren floor for 2 weeks (3P), 4 weeks (5P), or 6 weeks (7P), respectively, and then reared on sandy floor till 14 weeks; the other three groups were reared on sandy floor for 2 weeks (3F), 4 weeks (5F), or 6 weeks(7F), respectively, and then reared on barren floor till 14 weeks. Feather-pecking, ground-pecking, object-pecking and staring at object were measured. The results showed that the most important period of imprinting for feather-pecking behaviour was during first four weeks after birth, especially week 3 and week 4. It was found that the early environmental experience can modify feather-pecking behaviour at later age, but can not completely change it. On the other hand, the environmental conditions seemed not to affect object-pecking and staring at object in this study [Acta Zoologica Sinica 54(6):955–963, 2008].

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