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pigs faceMaternal behavior of Yoruba ecotype Nigeria indigenous chickens

 


Year: 2021

Victor Oyeniran
Federal University of Agriculture,  Abeokuta, Nigeria

Supervisor(s): Dr Iyasere Oluwaseun, Dr Samuel O Durosaro and Dr JO Daramola


 

In domestic chickens, the provision of maternal care strongly influences the behavioural development of chicks. The function of maternal care is to promote improved survival, thermoregulation, protection and comfort to the chicks. In this study, we reported baseline information on the maternal behaviour of the Yoruba ecotype chickens. Broody hens were separated to a brooding pen and provided with eggs. The behaviour of the brooding hens (frequency of sitting on egg, turning of eggs, feeding, drinking) were recorded three times/week for the first two weeks of brooding and then daily at the 3rd week of brooding for a total of 6 h/day (07:00-09:00h, 11:00-13:00h and 15:00-17:00h). The surface body temperatures, of the eye, wing and brood patch were measured with the use of infra red thermometer during the three weeks of brooding (3 times/week). Behaviour of the chicks and hens were studied four weeks post hatch. Hen warming of chicks (providing warmth to chicks underneath her feathers, the number of chicks warmed under the mother), hen warming posture (total, partial or not covering the chicks), play behaviour (mother-chick, chick-chick interaction) and aggressive behaviour (mother pecking and trampling on chicks) were recorded. Five chicks from each mother were subjected to tonic immobility (TI) on the 7th, 14th and 21st day post hatch and the number of attempts to induce TI and duration of TI were recorded. Data were analysed using One way ANOVA and Kruskal-Wallis test. There was no significant effect of time of day (p>0.05) on frequency of egg turning and sitting on eggs, however the Yoruba ecotype hens showed higher frequency of feeding (F2,17= 4.869, p=0.023) and drinking (F2,17= 4.891, p=0.023) in the morning and afternoon than in the evening. There were no significant effects (p>0.05) of week of brooding and time of day on eye, wing and brood patch temperatures. Week of post hatch had a significant effect on the chicks warmed by the mother hens (χ2=11.553, df =3, p=0.009) which was greater at the 1st, intermediate at the 2nd and 3rd and least at 4th week post hatch. Also, week of post hatch influenced total covering of chicks by hens (χ2=10.023, df =3, p=0.018), which was greater at the 1st, intermediate at 2nd and least at the 3rd and 4th week post hatch. Other behaviours were not influenced (p>0.05) by week of post hatch. Time of day influenced chick warming by mother hens (χ2=12.743, df =2, p=0.002), total covering of chicks by hens (χ2=10.803, df =2, p=0.005) and frequency of chick-chick play (χ2=13.194, df=2, p=0.001) such that the percentage of chicks warmed, frequency of total covering during warming and frequency of chick-chick play were greater in the morning than afternoon and evening. Feeding behaviour was greater in the morning, intermediate in the afternoon and least in the evening (χ2= 7.868, df=2, p=0.020). Drinking behaviour was greater in the afternoon than morning and evening (χ2=6.610, df=2, p=0.037). Other behaviours were not influenced by time of day (P>0.05). There was no significant effect of age of chicks on number of attempts to induce tonic immobility (χ2 = 4.604, df=2, p=0.100) and duration of tonic immobility (χ2 = 1.352, df=2, p=0.509). In conclusion, feeding and drinking behaviour of broody hens were greater in the morning and afternoon than evening. Surface body temperature of the broody hens were consistent over the different periods of the day and weeks of brooding. Warming of the chicks by the mother hens decreases as the chicks increase in age. Warming of chicks, chick-chick play was dependent on time of the day. The level of fear in the chicks were not influenced by their age posthatch.