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Heritability of feather pecking and open-field response of laying hens at two different ages

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  • T. B. Rodenburg
  • A. J. Buitenhuis
  • Ask, Birgitte
  • K. A. Uitdehaag
  • P. Koene
  • J. J. van der Poel
  • H. Bovenhuis
The objective of the current study was to estimate heritabilities (h2) of feather pecking and open-field response of laying hens at two different ages. An F2 cross, originating from a high and a low feather pecking line of laying hens, was used for the experiment. Each of the 630 birds of the F2 cross was subjected to an open-field test (individual, 10 min) at 5 and 29 wk of age and to a social feather pecking test (groups of five birds on wood shavings, 30 min) at 6 and 30 wk of age. Both tests were performed in a square open field (1.25 x 1.25 m). Behavior was recorded directly from a monitor. Heritabilities of feather pecking and open-field behaviors were calculated. In the open-field test at 5 wk of age, high h2 were found for most traits, ranging from 0.20 for the frequency of flying to 0.49 for number of steps. In the social test at 6 wk, gentle feather pecking (0.12) and ground pecking (0.13) were found to be heritable. When both tests were repeated at 29 and 30 wk of age, h2 estimates were lower for the open-field test, ranging from 0.10 for duration of sitting to 0.20 for latency to first step. In the social test, however, higher h2 estimates of 0.15 for gentle feather pecking and 0.30 for ground pecking were found compared with 6 wk of age. In conclusion, gentle feather pecking and open-field behaviors may be used in selection against feather pecking.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftPoultry Science
Vol/bind82
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)861-867
Antal sider7
ISSN0032-5791
StatusUdgivet - 1 jun. 2003
Eksternt udgivetJa

Bibliografisk note

Paper id:: PMID: 12817438

ID: 13179764