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Do female broiler breeder fowl display a preference for broiler breeder or laying strain males in a Y-maze test?

By S. T. Millman, I. J. H. Duncan

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In recent years, the commercial broiler breeder industry has reported problems of male aggression towards females. Although this aggression is shown by the males and is apparently a defect in their behaviour, it is also possible that it stems in some way from the females. For example, broiler breeder females may not be receptive to male courtship advances, and may avoid males, thus causing frustration in otherwise normal males. The objective of this study was to examine mate preference by broiler breeder females and the effects of sexual experience on preference. A total of 24 mature, broiler breeder females were individually tested in a Y-maze, with females choosing between a broiler breeder male and a laying strain male. Females were tested using male models and tethered live males, both when the females were sexually inexperienced and after they had been housed with broiler breeder or laying strain males for 6 weeks. Females did not display a male-strain preference when tested with models, but sexually experienced females displayed some evidence of a preference for laying strain males in tests with live males, which did not reach statistical significance. Live males were a stronger attractant for sexually experienced females than were models. Individual females tested with the same pair of males showed different preferences, suggesting females used male behaviour as a basis for their choices, and not male morphology. In conclusion, we found no evidence that broiler breeder females inherently discriminate against broiler breeder males.

Date 2000
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 69
Issue 4
Pages 275-290
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(00)00129-5
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal and Poultry Science, Col. K.L. Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada.
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal reproduction
  4. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  5. Birds
  6. Broilers
  7. Chickens
  8. Females
  9. Fowls
  10. Laying characters
  11. Laying performance
  12. Males
  13. Mating behavior
  14. Meat animals
  15. peer-reviewed
  16. Poultry
  17. Sexual behavior
  18. sexuality
  19. Sexual practices
  1. peer-reviewed