Conditioning domestic chickens to a magnetic anomaly

Susanne Denzau, Dany Kuriakose, Rafael Freire, Ursula Munro, Wolfgang Wiltschko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Young domestic chicks of two strains, ISA brown layers and White Leghorn X Australorps, were trained to associate a magnetic anomaly with food. This was done by feeding them in their housing boxes from a dish placed above a small coil that produced a magnetic anomaly roughly six times as strong as the local geomagnetic field. Unrewarded tests began on day 9 after hatching. In a square arena, two corresponding coils were placed underneath two opposite corners. One coil, the control coil, was double-wrapped producing no net magnetic field, while the other in the opposite corner produced a local magnetic anomaly similar to that experienced during feeding. The chicks favoured the corner with the anomaly from day 10 after hatching onward. Both strains of chickens showed this preference, indicating that they could sense the local changes in the magnetic field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1137-1141
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

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