Different responses in two strains of chickens (Gallus gallus) in a magnetic orientation test

Rafael Freire, ursula Munro, Lesley Rogers, Sven Sagasser, Roswitha Wiltschko, Wolfgang Wiltschko

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17 Citations (Scopus)
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Previous studies demonstrated that layer strain domestic chicks bred for egg production can orient using directional cues from the magnetic Weld; here we report that chicks from a broiler strain bred for meat production do not use magnetic cues for orientation. We imprinted both strains of chicken on a red ball and subsequently trained them in a featureless testing arena. Between rewarded trials in the geomagnetic Weld, we inserted unrewarded tests under the following conditions: (1) in the geomagnetic Weld,(2) in a magnetic Weld with North shifted by 90° and (3) in amagnetic Weld with the inclination inverted. The layer chicks made a correct axial response in 75'80% of the tests, shifting their choices following a rotation of magnetic North. Chicks of the broiler strain, in contrast, performed at chance level with between 47 and 60% of choices on the correct axis.This diVerence between the strains does not appear to be due to substantial strain diVerences in motivation to perform the task. It therefore appears possible that the selection of the broiler strain has led to the elimination of the speciWc ability to respond to magnetic cues in the test situation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-552
Number of pages6
JournalAnimal Cognition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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