The aim of this study was to determine breed differences in the behavioural responses of two domestic chicks to feed and alarm playback calls. Thirty two (32) each of Nigerian indigenous chicks (NIC) and commercial broiler chicks (CBC) of the same age group (a day old) were divided into four replicates with eight chicks per replicate. On day 1, chicks were acclimatized to the test arena for 30 min. On days 2 and 4, the feed call playback was played for one minute and was repeated every 10 min in a 50 min test period (playback repeated four times). On days 3 and 5, the alarm call playback was played for one minute and was repeated every 10 min in a 50 min test period. The behaviour of the chicks was recorded continuously for 50 min using digital cameras. The feed call behavioural responses monitored included the percentage of birds feeding, pecking and foraging while the alarm call behavioural responses recorded were the percentage of birds running, freezing, clustering and crouching. In addition, the duration was recorded for clustering and crouching behaviours. Data on the behaviour of the chicks prior to the playback, during the 1 min playback (immediate response) and after the playback (recovery period) was analysed using both the independent T and Mann-Whitney U tests. Prior to the playback, there was no breed difference on feeding and pecking but a higher percentage of NIC were foraging than the CBC. There was no significant (P > 0.05) effect of breed on the immediate response of the chicks to the feed call in terms of the percentage of chicks feeding, pecking and foraging. The immediate response to the alarm call playback showed that the percentage of CBC and NIC that ran, froze and clustered were similar (P > 0.05). However, the percentage of CBC that crouched was greater (P < 0.05) than the NIC. The duration of clustering and crouching was longer (P < 0.05) in the CBC than the NIC. During the recovery period, the two breeds of chicks showed different feed-related activities; increased pecking and foraging in the CBC and NIC respectively after the feed call and increased clustering and crouching in NIC and CBC respectively after the alarm call. In conclusion, this study has shown some behavioural changes during recovery period associated with intense genetic selection.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
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