Institute for Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry

Celle, Germany

Institute for Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry

Celle, Germany
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General locomotor activity (GLA) in poultry has attracted attention, as it negatively influences production costs (energy expenditure and feed consumption) and welfare parameters (bone strength, litter quality, feather pecking and cannibalism). Laying hen lines diverging in the average level of spontaneous locomotor activity in the home pen were developed by genetic selection using the founder New Hampshire line. Activity was recorded using RFID technology at around five weeks of age during four to five days in the home pen. After initial phenotyping, the least active birds were selected for the low activity line and the most active for the high activity line, with no gene transfer between lines. In each of six generations, approximately ten sires were mated to twenty dams producing 158 to 334 offspring per line per generation. The response to selection was rapid and of a considerable magnitude. In sixth generation, the level of GLA was approximately halved in the low and doubled in the high line compared to the control (7.2, 14.9 and 28.7 recordings/h). Estimated heritability of locomotor activity in the low and high line was 0.38 and 0.33, respectively. Males, in general, were more active than females. High line birds were significantly heavier than low line birds. In fourth, fifth, and sixth generation, low as well as high line birds were lighter than control line birds. This selection experiment demonstrates variation in heritability for GLA and, as a result, genetically diverged lines have been developed. These lines can be used as models for further studies of underlying physiological, neural and molecular genetic mechanisms of spontaneous locomotor activity. © 2017 Joergen B. Kjaer. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Bennewitz J.,Institute of Animal Husbandry and Breeding | Bogelein S.,Institute of Animal Husbandry and Breeding | Stratz P.,Institute of Animal Husbandry and Breeding | Rodehutscord M.,German Institute of Animal Nutrition | And 3 more authors.
Poultry Science | Year: 2014

Feather pecking and aggressive pecking is a well-known problem in egg production. In the present study, genetic parameters for 4 feather-pecking- related traits were estimated using generalized linear mixed models. The traits were bouts of feather pecking delivered (FPD), bouts of feather pecking received (FPR), bouts of aggressive pecking delivered (APD), and bouts of aggressive pecking received (APR). An F2-design was established from 2 divergent selected founder lines. The lines were selected for low or high feather pecking for 10 generations. The number of F2 hens was 910. They were housed in pens with around 40 birds. Each pen was observed in 21 sessions of 20 min, distributed over 3 consecutive days. An animal model was applied that treated the bouts observed within 20 min as repeated observations. An over-dispersed Poisson distribution was assumed for observed counts and the link function was a log link. The model included a random animal effect, a random permanent environment effect, and a random day-by-hen effect. Residual variance was approximated on the link scale by the delta method. The results showed a heritability around 0.10 on the link scale for FPD and APD and of 0.04 for APR. The heritability of FPR was zero. For all behavior traits, substantial permanent environmental effects were observed. The approximate genetic correlation between FPD and APD (FPD and APR) was 0.81 (0.54). Egg production and feather eating records were collected on the same hens as well and were analyzed with a generalized linear mixed model, assuming a binomial distribution and using a probit link function. The heritability on the link scale for egg production was 0.40 and for feather eating 0.57. The approximate genetic correlation between FPD and egg production was 0.50 and between FPD and feather eating 0.73. Selection might help to reduce feather pecking, but this might result in an unfavorable correlated selection response reducing egg production. Feather eating and feather pecking are genetically correlated and this needs further investigation. © 2014 Poultry Science Association Inc.


Lutz V.,University of Hohenheim | Kjaer J.B.,Institute for Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Iffland H.,University of Hohenheim | Rodehutscord M.,University of Hohenheim | And 2 more authors.
Poultry Science | Year: 2016

The objective of this research was to analyze the relationship between feather pecking (FP) and feather eating (FE) as well as general locomotor activity (GLA) using structural equation models, which allow that one trait can be treated as an explanatory variable of another trait. This provides an opportunity to infer putative causal links among the traits. For the analysis, 897 F2-hens set up from 2 lines divergently selected for high and low FP were available. The FP observations were Box-Cox transformed, and FE and GLA observations were log and square root transformed, respectively. The estimated heritabilities of FE, GLA, and FP were 0.36, 0.29, and 0.20, respectively. The genetic correlation between FP and FE (GLA) was 0.17 (0.04). A high genetic correlation of 0.47 was estimated between FE and GLA. The recursive effect from FE to FP was λ FP,FE} = 0.258$, and from GLA to FP λ FP,GLA} = 0.046$. These results imply that an increase of FE leads to an increased FP behavior and that an increase in GLA results in a higher FP value. Furthermore, the study showed that the genetic correlation among the traits is mainly caused by indirect effects. © 2016 Poultry Science Association Inc.


On the basis of observations that flocks of chickens with high incidence of feather pecking and feather damages show a high fear level, it is generally assumed that feather pecking and fear are positively correlated. This hypothesis was tested in two experiments using adult laying hens of lines selected for high (HFP) and low feather pecking behaviour (LFP) and their reciprocal crosses. A total of 60 adult birds, 30 HFP and 30 LFP, of the selection lines were used in part one of the experiment. The birds were first observed for the number of bouts of severe feather pecks delivered (FPD) and received (FPR) when kept in groups of equal numbers of both lines. Thereafter all birds were subjected to several fear tests: Tonic immobility test (TI), open- field test (OF), emerge box test (ET) and pencil test. In part two of the experiment a total of 967 birds of the F2- crosses of both lines were used. All birds were tested using the same fear tests as above at 7 days and 40 weeks of age. FPD and FPR were observed in adults only. The whole population was split for FPD in HFP and LFP using the threshold of ≥ 2 (HFP) and < 2 (LFP). HFP and LFP of the selection lines and the F2- crosses clearly differed in FPD. LFP of the selection lines received more feather pecks than HFP. There was no significant difference for FPR in HFP and LFP in the F2- crosses. In contrast to our expectation HFP from the selection lines showed a significant shorter duration of TI, shorter latency to move and to vocalize in the OF and a shorter latency to leave the emerge box, indicating lower fear. Similar results were found in the HFP and LFP of the F2- crosses for the duration of TI and latency of head appearance in the ET. Latency of the first step and to vocalize in the OF, however showed the opposite tendency. Line by age interactions appeared for the number of inductions in the TI and the latency of head emerge in the ET. There were no differences between HFP and LFP in the pencil test in both experiments. The phenotypic correlations between FPD and FPR with all fear criteria were low and not significant in both experiments. There is obviously no consistent relationship between feather pecking and fear in this population. Depending on type of fear test and age the HFP may show higher, lower or no difference in fear. Genotypes by age interactions further contribute to the variability of the results. The low phenotypic correlations among the criteria confirm this conclusion. © Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart.


Brenninkmeyer C.,University of Kassel | Dippel S.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Dippel S.,Institute for Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry | Brinkmann J.,Thuenen Institute of Organic Farming | And 3 more authors.
Animal | Year: 2016

In this study, a data set of 2922 lactating dairy cows in a sample of 64 conventional and organic dairy farms with Holstein Friesian cows in Germany and 31 conventional dairy farms with the dual purpose breed Fleckvieh in Austria was used to screen for correlations between the occurrences of different integument alterations. All cows were housed in cubicle systems. Alterations were classified as hairless areas (H), scabs or wounds (W) or swellings (S) and assessed at 15 locations of the cows' body. Highest median farm prevalences were found at the joints of the legs, which are already commonly included in studies on integumentary alterations: median farm prevalence was 83% for S and 48% for H at the carpal joints, followed by H (38%) and S (20%) at the lateral tarsal joints and H at the lateral calcanei (20%). Additional body parts with notable median prevalences for H were the hip bones (13%), pin bones (12%) and sacrum (11%). Three cluster models, with 2, 5 and 14 clusters, were built by hierarchical clustering of prevalences of the 30 most relevant alteration location combinations. Clustering revealed that location overruled type of lesion in most cases. Occasionally, clusters represented body segments significantly distant from each other, for example the carpal joints and lateral and dorsal calcanei. However, some neighbouring areas such as the medial and lateral hock area should be analysed separately from each other for causal analysis as they formed distinct clusters. © The Animal Consortium 2015.


Baumann S.,Education and Knowledge Center | Pflanz W.,Education and Knowledge Center | Gallmann E.,University of Hohenheim | Schrader L.,Institute for Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry
Landtechnik | Year: 2013

This study analyses the preferences, as well as the lying behaviour, of sows with various types of mat in a group housing system lying area. The sows in the trial could choose between six bays with three lying surfaces (concrete, hard or soft rubber matting). The behaviour of the animals was video recorded continually over seven days. The results show that sows preferred malleable floor coverings for lying on. The soft rubber mats were preferred with 53.6 % occupancy over hard rubber mats with 38.1 %. The bare concrete flooring was, with 8.3 % occupancy, relatively seldom used.


It is generally assumed that there is a relationship between feather pecking, fear, feather condition and laying performance criteria in laying hens. This hypothesis was tested in a F2-cross of high (HFP) and low (LFP) feather pecking birds of White Leghorn origin. A total of 967 birds were first observed for the number of bouts of severe feather pecks delivered (FPD) and received (FPR) when kept in groups of random composition. The whole population was split for FPD in HFP and LFP using the threshold of ≥ 2 (HFP) and < 2 (LFP). The birds clearly differed in FPD but there was no significant difference for FPR between HFP and LFP. The subgroups were subjected to a pencil test at 29 weeks of age. At 26 weeks and 39 weeks of age body weight was measured and feather condition scored in different body parts (neck, breast, wings, vent and tail) using a scale from 0–4 (0 = worse, 4 = best). In addition the birds were tested for their feather eating behaviour and their laying performance criteria (hen-day egg production %, egg weight, feed consumption per day and FCR) at 29 weeks of age. In contrast to our expectation HFP birds showed a significant better plumage condition at 39 weeks of age than LFP birds. There were differences in feather scores at both ages for wings and tail. There were no differences between subgroups in the body weight at neither age. There were also no differences in the pencil test. But HFP birds showed a significant higher number of eaten feathers than LFP birds. This is in line with many other studies. But the difference was not as large as reported in previous studies. In contrast to our expectation there were no significant differences between the subgroups in performance, feed intake and FCR although LFP birds showed a significant poorer feather condition than HFP birds at 39 weeks of age. There were, however, negative correlations between feather score, performance, feed consumption and FCR within subgroups.Obviously there is no consistent relationships between feather pecking, fear, feather condition and performance criteria. © Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart.


Baumann S.,Education and Knowledge Center | Pflanz W.,Boxberg Education and Knowledge Center | Gallmann E.,University of Hohenheim | Schrader L.,Institute for Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry
Landtechnik | Year: 2012

During the production cycle sows experience different housing systems and floorings: in the service centre, in the dry sow accommodation and in the farrowing house. To investigate the effects on their feet of the different systems, sows were regularly inspected and scored over a period at the State Institute for Pig Breeding and Management (LSZ), Boxberg Education and Knowledge Centre. The results from over 1 300 individual inspections show that, under loose housing management in groups, the sole and ball areas of sow feet are subject to increased wear and damage. Horn wall injuries are identified mainly with sows on slatted flooring in the lying area. On the other hand, where sows are confined individually in farrowing pens their feet can show a lack of even wear.


PubMed | Institute for Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry and University of Hohenheim
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Poultry science | Year: 2016

The objective of this research was to analyze the relationship between feather pecking (FP) and feather eating (FE) as well as general locomotor activity (GLA) using structural equation models, which allow that one trait can be treated as an explanatory variable of another trait. This provides an opportunity to infer putative causal links among the traits. For the analysis, 897 F2-hens set up from 2 lines divergently selected for high and low FP were available. The FP observations were Box-Cox transformed, and FE and GLA observations were log and square root transformed, respectively. The estimated heritabilities of FE, GLA, and FP were 0.36, 0.29, and 0.20, respectively. The genetic correlation between FP and FE (GLA) was 0.17 (0.04). A high genetic correlation of 0.47 was estimated between FE and GLA. The recursive effect from FE to FP was [Formula: see text], and from GLA to FP [Formula: see text] These results imply that an increase of FE leads to an increased FP behavior and that an increase in GLA results in a higher FP value. Furthermore, the study showed that the genetic correlation among the traits is mainly caused by indirect effects.


PubMed | Institute for Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry and University of Hohenheim
Type: | Journal: Genetics, selection, evolution : GSE | Year: 2015

Feather pecking (FP) in laying hens is a well-known and multi-factorial behaviour with a genetic background. In a selection experiment, two lines were developed for 11 generations for high (HFP) and low (LFP) feather pecking, respectively. Starting with the second generation of selection, there was a constant difference in mean number of FP bouts between both lines. We used the data from this experiment to perform a quantitative genetic analysis and to map selection signatures.Pedigree and phenotypic data were available for the last six generations of both lines. Univariate quantitative genetic analyses were conducted using mixed linear and generalized mixed linear models assuming a Poisson distribution. Selection signatures were mapped using 33,228 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) genotyped on 41 HFP and 34 LFP individuals of generation 11. For each SNP, we estimated Wrights fixation index (FST). We tested the null hypothesis that FST is driven purely by genetic drift against the alternative hypothesis that it is driven by genetic drift and selection.The mixed linear model failed to analyze the LFP data because of the large number of 0s in the observation vector. The Poisson model fitted the data well and revealed a small but continuous genetic trend in both lines. Most of the 17 genome-wide significant SNPs were located on chromosomes 3 and 4. Thirteen clusters with at least two significant SNPs within an interval of 3 Mb maximum were identified. Two clusters were mapped on chromosomes 3, 4, 8 and 19. Of the 17 genome-wide significant SNPs, 12 were located within the identified clusters. This indicates a non-random distribution of significant SNPs and points to the presence of selection sweeps.Data on FP should be analysed using generalised linear mixed models assuming a Poisson distribution, especially if the number of FP bouts is small and the distribution is heavily peaked at 0. The FST-based approach was suitable to map selection signatures that need to be confirmed by linkage or association mapping.

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