You are here: Home / Journal Articles / Does the anticipatory behaviour of chickens communicate reward quality? / About

Does the anticipatory behaviour of chickens communicate reward quality?

By Nicky McGrath, Oliver Burman, Cathy Dwyer, Clive J. C. Phillips

View Resource (HTM)

Licensed under

Category Journal Articles

The anticipatory behaviour of animals has been credited with enabling scientists to more closely infer what an animal wants. From a welfare perspective, this knowledge could improve how we care for animals under our management, as information about how animals prioritise rewarding items may guide how we allocate resources effectively. Our goal was to determine if behaviour in anticipation of different types of reward was differentially expressed. We investigated whether certain behaviours were characteristic of anticipation of both food and non-food rewards, and whether signals indicating rewards led to increased activity levels. Twelve laying hens experienced a Pavlovian conditioning paradigm using sound cues to signal the availability of two different food rewards (mealworms, normal food), one non-food reward (a container of mixed soil and sand substrate suitable for foraging and dustbathing (Dusty substrate)) and a sound-neutral event, which was signalled by a sound, but no reward was given. A muted-neutral treatment (no reward and no sound cue) controlled for any specific behaviour as a result of the sound cues. Behavioural responses and the number of transitions between behaviours were measured during a 15s anticipatory period, before birds accessed rewards in an adjoining compartment by pushing through a door. These responses and latency to access the rewards were analysed using linear and generalised linear mixed models. Differences in pushing and pecking at the door (frequency: Dusty substrate 4.87a, Mealworm 3.18b, Normal Food 2.23b, Sound Neutral 0.30c, Muted Neutral 0.03d, χ2(4)=228.99, p

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 184
Pages 80-90
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Chickens
  2. Conditioning
  3. rewards