Hens vary their vocal repertoire and structure when anticipating different types of reward

McGrath, Nicky, Dunlop, Rebecca, Dwyer, Cathy, Burman, Oliver and Phillips, Clive J. C. (2017) Hens vary their vocal repertoire and structure when anticipating different types of reward. Animal Behaviour, 130 79-96. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2017.05.025

Author McGrath, Nicky
Dunlop, Rebecca
Dwyer, Cathy
Burman, Oliver
Phillips, Clive J. C.
Title Hens vary their vocal repertoire and structure when anticipating different types of reward
Journal name Animal Behaviour   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0003-3472
Publication date 2017-08-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.anbehav.2017.05.025
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 130
Start page 79
End page 96
Total pages 18
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Academic Press
Language eng
Subject 1105 Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
1103 Animal Science and Zoology
Abstract The vocalizations of nonhuman animals are considered potential indicators of motivational or internal state. In many species, different call types, and structural variation within call types, encode information about physical characteristics such as age or sex, or about variable traits such as motivation. Domestic chickens, Gallus gallus, have an elaborate vocal repertoire, enabling investigation into whether reward-related arousal is encoded within their call type and structure. Twelve hens were given a Pavlovian conditioning paradigm using sound cues to signal the availability of two food rewards (mealworms, normal food), one nonfood reward (a container of substrate suitable for dustbathing), and a sound-neutral event (sound cue, no reward). A muted-neutral treatment (no sound cue, no reward) provided a baseline for vocal behaviour. Sound cues preceded a 15 s anticipation period during which vocalizations were recorded. Hens produced a ‘Food call’ (previously defined in other studies) in anticipation of all rewards, including the nonfood reward. ‘Food calls’ and ‘Fast clucks’ were more prevalent in anticipation of rewards, and most prevalent following the cue signalling the dustbathing substrate, suggesting that this reward induced the most arousal in hens. The peak frequency of ‘Food calls’ made in anticipation of the dustbathing substrate was significantly lower than those made in anticipation of food rewards, potentially reflecting differences in arousal. Vocalizations that reliably indicate hens' motivational state could be used as measures of welfare in on-farm assessment situations. Our study is the first to reveal variation in the frequency-related parameters of the ‘Food call’ in different contexts, and to show the prevalence of different call types in reward and nonreward contexts, which may have implications for welfare assessments.
Keyword Laying hens
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Veterinary Science Publications
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