[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Behavioral traits such as sociability, emotional reactivity and aggressiveness are major factors in animal adaptation to breeding conditions. In order to investigate the genetic control of these traits as well as their relationships with production traits, a study was undertaken on a large second generation cross (F2) between two lines of Japanese Quail divergently selected on their social reinstatement behavior. All the birds were measured for several social behaviors (social reinstatement, response to social isolation, sexual motivation, aggression), behaviors measuring the emotional reactivity of the birds (reaction to an unknown object, tonic immobility reaction), and production traits (body weight and egg production).ResultsWe report the results of the first genome-wide QTL detection based on a medium density SNP panel obtained from whole genome sequencing of a pool of individuals from each divergent line. A genetic map was constructed using 2145 markers among which 1479 could be positioned on 28 different linkage groups. The sex-averaged linkage map spanned a total of 3057 cM with an average marker spacing of 2.1 cM. With the exception of a few regions, the marker order was the same in Japanese Quail and the chicken, which confirmed a well conserved synteny between the two species. The linkage analyses performed using QTLMAP software revealed a total of 45 QTL related either to behavioral (23) or production (22) traits. The most numerous QTL (15) concerned social motivation traits. Interestingly, our results pinpointed putative pleiotropic regions which controlled emotional reactivity and body-weight of birds (on CJA5 and CJA8) or their social motivation and the onset of egg laying (on CJA19).Conclusion
This study identified several QTL regions for social and emotional behaviors in the Quail. Further research will be needed to refine the QTL and confirm or refute the role of candidate genes, which were suggested by bioinformatics analysis. It can be hoped that the identification of genes and polymorphisms related to behavioral traits in the quail will have further applications for other poultry species (especially the chicken) and will contribute to solving animal welfare issues in poultry production.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Animals perceiving repeated aversive events can become chronically stressed. Chronic activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis can have deleterious consequences on physiological parameters (e.g. BW, blood chemistry) and behaviour (e.g. emotional reactivity, stereotypies, cognition). Environmental enrichment (EE) can be a mean to reduce animal stress and to improve welfare. The aim of this study was first, to assess the effects of EE in battery cages on the behaviour of young Japanese quail and second, to evaluate the impact of EE on quail exposed to chronic stress. The experiment involved quail housed in EE cages and submitted or not to a chronic stress procedure (CSP) (EE cages, control quail: n=16, CSP quail: n=14) and quail housed in standard cages and exposed or not to the CSP (standard non-EE cages, control quail: n=12, CSP quail: n=16). Our procedure consisted of repeated aversive events (e.g. ventilators, delaying access to food, physical restraint, noise) presented two to five times per 24 h, randomly, for 15 days. During CSP, EE improved quail's welfare as their stereotypic pacing decreased and they rested more. CSP decreased exploration in all quail. After the end of CSP, quail presented increased emotional reactivity in emergence test. However, the effect of EE varied with test. Finally, chronic stress effects on comfort behaviours in the emergence test were alleviated by EE. These results indicate that EE can alleviate some aspects of behavioural alterations induced by CSP.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Numerous aversive events occur in poultry production, and if repeated and unpredictable, can result in an impaired welfare. Some events such as handling can be perceived negatively and it is of interest to understand how humans' behaviour could affect poultry's behaviours and especially its avoidance of humans. Our aim was to evaluate short- and long-lasting effects of a 3-week procedure involving unpredictable repeated negative stimuli (URNS) applied during the post-juvenile period on quail's reactivity to humans. We compared the reactions of two sets of quail: URNS was applied to one set (treated quail) and the other set was left undisturbed (control quail). When two weeks old, treated quail were exposed to a variety of negative stimuli, either applied automatically or involving human presence. One and seven weeks after the termination of the procedure, the reactivity of control and treated quail to a passive human being was evaluated. Furthermore, the experimenter with her hand on a trough containing a mealworm assessed the propensity of quail of both groups to habituate to feed close to a human being. In the presence of a seated observer, treated quail were more inhibited and more alert than control quail. Likewise, seven weeks after the end of the URNS procedure, more treated than control quail adopted a fear posture. Moreover, whereas control quail spent as much time in the different areas of their cages, treated quail spent more time in the rear part of their cages. Finally, whereas control quail habituated gradually to feed near the experimenter's hand, treated quail did not. All these tests evidence negative short- and long-term effects on treated quail's reactivity to a passive human being and on their habituation to a human being when her presence is positively reinforced. This highlights the importance of young poultry's experience with humans in production.
PLoS ONE 03/2014; 9(3):e93259. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic stress is a long-lasting negative emotional state that induces negative consequences on animals' psycho-physiological state. This study aimed at assessing whether unpredictable and repeated negative stimuli (URNS) influence feeding behaviour in quail. Sixty-four quail were exposed to URNS from day 17 to 40, while 64 quail were undisturbed. Two lines divergently selected on their inherent emotionality were used to assess the effect of genetic factors on the sensitivity to URNS. All quail were submitted to a sequential feeding procedure (using two diets of different energetic values) which placed them in a contrasting situation. Behavioural tests were performed to assess the emotional reactivity of the two lines. Results confirmed that differences exist between them and that their emotional reactivity was enhanced by URNS. Diet preferences, motivation and daily intake were also measured. URNS did not change the preferences for the hypercaloric diet compared to the hypocaloric diet in choice tests, but they reduced daily intakes in both lines. Motivations for each diet were differently affected by URNS: they decreased the motivation to eat the hypercaloric diet in quail selected for their low inherent fearfulness whereas they increased the motivation to eat the hypocaloric diet in quail selected for their high inherent fearfulness, which suggested a devaluation process in the former and a compensatory behaviour in the later. Growth was furthermore reduced and laying delayed by URNS in both lines. In conclusion, the exposure to URNS induced interesting changes in feeding behaviour added with an increase in emotional reactivity and an alteration of production parameters. This confirms that both lines of quail experienced a chronic stress state. However differences in feed motivation and emotional reactivity between lines under chronic stress suggested that they experienced different emotional state and use different ways to cope with it depending on their genetic background.
PLoS ONE 02/2014; 9(2):e87249. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The social behavior of animals, which is partially controlled by genetics, is one of the factors involved in their adaptation to large breeding groups. To understand better the relationships between different social behaviors, fear behaviors and production traits, we analyzed the phenotypic and genetic correlations of these traits in Japanese quail by a second generation crossing of two lines divergently selected for their social reinstatement behavior. Analyses of results for 900 individuals showed that the phenotypic correlations between behavioral traits were low with the exception of significant correlations between sexual behavior and aggressive pecks both at phenotypic (0.51) and genetic (0.90) levels. Significant positive genetic correlations were observed between emotional reactivity toward a novel object and sexual (0.89) or aggressive (0.63) behaviors. The other genetic correlations were observed mainly between behavioral and production traits. Thus, the level of emotional reactivity, estimated by the duration of tonic immobility, was positively correlated with weight at 17 and 65 days of age (0.76 and 0.79, respectively) and with delayed egg laying onset (0.74). In contrast, a higher level of social reinstatement behavior was associated with an earlier egg laying onset (-0.71). In addition, a strong sexual motivation was correlated with an earlier laying onset (-0.68) and a higher number of eggs laid (0.82). A low level of emotional reactivity toward a novel object and also a higher aggressive behavior were genetically correlated with a higher number of eggs laid (0.61 and 0.58, respectively). These results bring new insights into the complex determinism of social and emotional reactivity behaviors in birds and their relationships with production traits. Furthermore, they highlight the need to combine animal welfare and production traits in selection programs by taking into account traits of sociability and emotional reactivity.
PLoS ONE 12/2013; 8(12):e82157. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The objectives of this study were to 1) identify determinants of poor welfare in commercial broiler chicken flocks by studying the associations between selected resource-based measures (RBM, potential risk factors), such as litter quality and dark period, and animal-based welfare indicators (ABM), such as foot pad dermatitis and lameness, and 2) establish the breadth of effect of a risk factor by determining the range of animal welfare indicators associated with each of the risk factors (i.e., the number of ABM related to a specific RBM). Eighty-nine broiler flocks were inspected in 4 European countries (France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands) in a cross-sectional study. The ABM were contact dermatitis (measured using scores of foot-pad dermatitis and hock burn, respectively), lameness (measured as gait score), fear of humans (measured by the avoidance distance test and the touch test), and negative emotional state (measured using qualitative behavior assessment, QBA). In a first step, risk factors were identified by building a multiple linear regression model for each ABM. Litter quality was identified as a risk factor for contact dermatitis. Length of dark period at 3 wk old (DARK3) was a risk factor for the touch test result. DARK3 and flock age were risk factors for lameness, and the number of different stockmen and DARK3 were risk factors for QBA results. Next, the ABM were grouped according to risk factor and counted. Then, in a second step, associations between the ABM were investigated using common factor analysis. The breadth of a risk factor's effect was judged by combining the number (count) of ABM related to this factor and the strength of association between these ABM. Flock age and DARK3 appeared to affect several weakly correlated ABM, thus indicating a broad range of effects. Our findings suggest that manipulation of the predominant risk factors identified in this study (DARK3, litter quality, and slaughter age) could generate improvements in the related ABM and thereby enhance the birds' overall welfare status.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Compared to rodents, the relationship between anxiety and cognitive performances has been less studied in birds. Yet, birds are frequently exposed to stimulations that constitute a potential source of anxiety and can affect their adaptation to their living conditions. The present study was aimed at evaluating, in birds, the relationship between levels of anxiety and object habituation and discrimination with the use of Japanese quail lines divergently selected for a fear response, tonic immobility. Previous studies demonstrated that the selection programme has modified the general anxiety trait of the birds. The task consisted in 4 daily sessions of 8 successive presentations of the same object in the home cage of the quail in order to habituate each bird to the object. The observation that both quail with a high and a low anxiety trait progressively spent more time close to the object indicated that habituation occurred. Dishabituation was assessed during a single session of 8 presentations of a novel object. Only quail with a high anxiety trait exhibited significant discrimination. They spent significantly less time close to the novel object than to the habituated object. It is hypothesised that a high anxiety trait is associated with a more accurate processing of environmental cues or events resulting in better discriminative performances.
Behavioural brain research 05/2013; · 3.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Environmental challenges might affect the maternal organism and indirectly affect the later ontogeny of the progeny. We investigated the cross-generation impact of a moderate heat challenge in chickens. We hypothesized that a warm temperature-within the thermotolerance range- would affect the hormonal environment provided to embryos by mothers, and in turn, affect the morphology and behavioral phenotype of offspring. METHODOLOGYPRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Laying hens were raised under a standard thermal condition at 21°C (controls) or 30°C (experimental) for 5 consecutive weeks. A significant increase was observed in the internal temperature of hens exposed to the warm treatment; however plasma corticosterone levels remained unaffected. The laying rate was not affected, but experimental hens laid lighter eggs than the controls during the treatment. As expected, the maternal thermal environment affected yolk hormone contents. Eggs laid by the experimental hens showed significantly higher concentrations of yolk progesterone, testosterone, and estradiol. All chicks were raised under standard thermal conditions. The quality of hatchlings, growth, feeding behavior and emotional reactivity of chicks were analyzed. Offspring of experimental hens (C30 chicks) were lighter but obtained better morphological quality scores at hatching than the controls (C21 chicks). C30 chicks expressed lesser distress calls when exposed to a novel food. Unlike C21 chicks, C30 chicks expressed no preference for energetic food. CONCLUSIONSIGNIFICANCE: Our findings suggest that moderate heat challenge triggers maternal effects and modulate the developmental trajectory of offspring in a way that may be adaptive. This suggests that the impact of heat challenges on captive or wild populations might have a cross-generation effect.
PLoS ONE 02/2013; PLoS ONE 8(2): e57670. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Emotionality trait influences exploratory behaviour in Japanese quail. Diazepam decreases impact of emotionality on exploratory behaviour. Selection on tonic immobility response represents valuable model of bird anxiety. a b s t r a c t This study tested whether lines of Japanese quails divergently selected for a fear response, the tonic immobility, might constitute a reliable bird model for studying anxiety. Previous studies demonstrated that the selection modifies the general underlying emotionality of the birds rather than exerting its effect only on tonic immobility. The behavioural effects of intraperitoneal injections of diazepam, an anxiolytic drug, were assessed in two lines of quail selected either for their short (STI) or long (LTI) duration of tonic immobility. Effects of diazepam were examined in two tests used for measuring emotionality in birds, the open field and the tonic immobility tests. After being placed in the centre of the open field, birds with a high emotionality (LTI quails) stayed longer in the centre of the apparatus than STI quail. Diazepam had anxiolytic effect in LTI birds as it increased the time spent in the outer area. This effect of diazepam appears to be selective because the drug has no effect on other behaviours such as distress calls or escape attempts. The drug has also no effect on the tonic immobility response in any of the two lines. These findings reveal an "anxiogenic" trait of LTI birds in the open field test that can be modulated by the administration of an anxiolytic drug. Therefore quails selected for LTI and STI represent a valuable model to study the mechanisms underlying anxiety in birds.
Behavioural brain research 01/2013; 237:124-128. · 3.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Slow-growing lines are widely used in France for the production of high quality free-range chickens. While such production is mainly dedicated to the whole carcass market, new prospects are opening up for the development of cuts and processed products. Whether the body composition and meat quality of slow-growing birds can be improved by selection has thus become an important issue. The genetic parameters of growth, body composition and breast meat quality traits were evaluated in relation to behaviour at slaughter in a large pedigree population including 1022 male and female slow-growing birds. RESULTS: The heritability coefficients (h2) of body weight and body composition traits varied from 0.3 to 0.5. Abdominal fat percentage was genetically positively correlated with body weight but negatively correlated with breast muscle yield. The characteristics of the breast meat (i.e., post-mortem fall in pH, colour, drip loss, shear-force and lipid content) were all heritable, with h2 estimates ranging from 0.18 to 0.48. The rate and extent of the fall in pH were under different genetic control. Strong negative genetic correlations were found between the ultimate pH and the lightness, yellowness and drip loss of the meat. Wing flapping on the shackle line was significantly heritable and exhibited marked genetic correlations with the pH at 15 min post-slaughter and the redness of the meat. The genetic relationships between meat quality traits, body weight and body composition appeared slightly different between males and females. CONCLUSION: This study suggested that there are a number of important criteria for selection on carcass and breast meat quality in slow-growing birds. Selection for reduced abdominal fatness and increased breast muscle yield should be effective as both traits were found to be highly heritable and favourably correlated. Substantial improvement in meat quality could be achieved by selection on ultimate pH which was highly heritable and strongly correlated with the colour and water-holding capacity of the meat. Moreover, this study revealed for the first time that the behaviour at slaughter is partly genetically determined in the chicken.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic stress is known to enhance mammals' emotional reactivity and alters several of their cognitive functions, especially spatial learning. Few studies have investigated such effects in birds. We investigated the impact of a two-week stress on Japanese quail's emotional reactivity and spatial learning. Quail is an avian model widely used in laboratory studies and for extrapolation of data to other poultry species. As sensitivity to chronic stress can be modulated by intrinsic factors, we tested juvenile female Japanese quail from three lines, two of them divergently selected on tonic immobility duration, an indicator of general fearfulness. The different emotional reactivity levels of quail belonging to these lines can be revealed by a large variety of tests. Half of the birds were submitted to repeated unpredictable aversive events for two weeks, whereas the other half were left undisturbed. After this procedure, two tests (open field and emergence tests) evaluated the emotional reactivity of treated and control quails. They were then trained in a T-maze for seven days and their spatial learning was tested. The chronic stress protocol had an impact on resting, preening and foraging in the home cage. As predicted, the emotional reactivity of treated quails, especially those selected for long tonic immobility duration, was higher. Our spatial learning data showed that the treatment enhanced acquisition but not memorization. However, intrinsic fearfulness did not seem to interact with the treatment in this test. According to an inverted U-shaped relationship between stress and cognition, chronic stress can improve the adaptability of birds to a stressful environment. We discussed the mechanisms possibly implied in the increase of emotional reactivity and spatial abilities.
PLoS ONE 10/2012; 7(10):e47475. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 1. Footpad dermatitis (FPD) is a recognised welfare problem in broiler chickens. Broiler feet (n = 54) were examined macroscopically and microscopically to determine a reliable correspondence between macroscopic and histological features, and to devise a scoring system that was relevant to bird welfare and easy to use at processing plants. 2. Three types of footpad lesion were defined based on their severity. Type I were mild lesions, visually characterised by scale enlargement and erythema, and histologically by hyperplasia and hyperkeratosis of the epidermis, superficial dermal congestion and oedema. Type II were moderate, superficial lesions, visually characterised by hypertrophic and hyperkeratotic scales covered with yellowish to brownish exudate, and histologically by a prominent pustular and crust-forming dermatitis. Type III lesions were the most pronounced, visually characterised by a thick dark adherent crust, and histologically by extensive ulceration. 3. On the basis of the severity and extent of these three types of lesions, a 5-point scale was devised, i.e. no or type I lesion (score 1), type II lesion (<50% or >50% of footpad, scores 2 and 3 respectively) and type III lesion (<50% or >50% of footpad, scores 4 and 5 respectively). 4. The scoring system has the advantage of making sense in terms of welfare compared with previous schemes. Furthermore, it is histologically validated and easy to use for the routine assessment of broiler welfare in processing plants.
British Poultry Science 06/2012; 53(3):275-81. · 1.15 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Because of the increasing demand for raw cuts and processed products, there is a trend to producing very heavy broilers. Breeds that are used for such kinds of production have been intensively selected for growth rate and breast meat yield, and birds are reared for a longer period than standard broilers. This study was to evaluate the effects of increasing slaughter age on technical and economic factors, including production efficiency and environmental costs, bird welfare, and breast meat quality in a modern heavy broiler line. Five groups of 300 male Ross 708 chickens were reared until slaughter ages of 35, 42, 49, 56, or 63 d. Increasing age at slaughter from 35 to 63 d resulted in a 7.4-fold increase (P < 0.01) in mortality rate (5.21 vs. 0.70%). It also increased (P < 0.001) the slaughter weight and ADFI of birds 2.5- and 1.4-fold, respectively, without affecting their G:F. Under our experimental conditions, economic profit evaluated through the net gain reached a maximum at 42 d. The moisture and ammonium content of litter increased (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively) rapidly during rearing concomitantly with increased (P < 0.05) occurrence and severity of contact dermatitis and decreased (P < 0.05) walking ability and activity of birds. Thermal comfort also decreased (P < 0.05) greatly as early as 42 d of age. Changes in carcass quality occurred mainly between 35 and 56 d of age, with a progressive increase (P < 0.001) in breast and leg yield, whereas body fatness was barely affected by age. Major changes in breast meat traits were observed between 35 and 49 d of age, with an increase in muscle pH at 15 min (P < 0.01) and 24 h (P < 0.001) postmortem and reduced (P < 0.001) lightness and drip loss. The protein and lipid content of raw breast meat also increased (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively) with age. Taking into account the main aspects of sustainability, we could recommend slaughtering chickens of heavy line at 42 d of age.
Journal of Animal Science 12/2011; 90(6):2003-13. · 1.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Like mammals, bird embryos are capable of chemosensory learning, but the ontogeny of their feeding preferences has not been examined. We tested if the timing of stimulation in chicken embryos modulates the impact of in ovo olfactory stimulation on later food preferences. We exposed chicken embryos to an olfactory stimulus for a 4-day period in the middle or toward the end of the incubation period. The chicks were tested for their preference between foods with and without the olfactory stimulus in 3-min choice tests and on a 24-h time scale. Regardless of the type of food (familiar or novel) or the duration of the test, the control chicks not exposed to the olfactory stimulus consistently showed significant preferences for non-odorized foods. Chicks that were exposed in ovo to the olfactory stimulus did not show a preference for odorized or non-odorized foods. Only those chicks that were exposed to the olfactory stimulus toward the end of the incubation period differed from the controls and incorporated a higher proportion of odorized food into their diets on a 24-h time scale. This result indicates that olfactory stimulation at the end of embryonic development has a stronger impact on later feeding preferences. Our findings contribute to the growing pool of recent data appreciating the impact of olfactory signals on behavior regulation in avian species.
Chemical Senses 11/2011; 37(3):253-61. · 3.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is considerable variability in the susceptibility of individuals to the adverse effects of chronic stress. In humans and other mammals, individual traits such as high anxiety are proposed as a vulnerability factor for the development of stress-related disorders. In the present study, we tested whether a similar behavioural trait in birds, higher emotional reactivity, also favours the occurrence of chronic stress-related behavioural and physiological dysfunction. For this, lines of Japanese quail divergently selected for a typical fear response in birds, the duration of tonic immobility, were subjected to unpredictable aversive stimulation over 2 weeks. Previous studies demonstrate that the selection program modifies the general underlying emotionality of the birds rather than exerting its effect only on tonic immobility. Interestingly, only birds selected for their higher emotionality exhibited significantly enhanced latency to first step and decreased locomotor activity in the open-field test after exposure to chronic stress compared to non-stressed control birds. This effect of chronic stress was selective for the tested dimension of bird emotional reactivity because there was no observed effect on the tonic immobility response. Moreover, chronically stressed birds selected for their higher emotionality exhibited significantly decreased basal corticosterone levels, a physiological marker of stress. These findings show that chronic stress is associated with changes in emotional reactivity and related physiological markers in birds. They also highlight emotional reactivity as an important predisposing factor for the occurrence of the adverse effects of chronic stress in birds.
Behavioural brain research 08/2011; 225(2):505-10. · 3.22 Impact Factor