The Effects of Confinement on the Associative Learning of Gallus gallus domesticus

(1) Williamston High School Math and Science Academy, Williamston, Michigan

In this study, we aimed to determine if confinement affects associative learning in chickens. We assessed associative learning ability by training chickens to recognize two plates of cottage cheese: on one plate, the cottage cheese was stained green with no other additives, and on the other plate, the cottage cheese was stained pink and contained methyl anthranilate, a common chemical in bird repellent. After a training period of 7 days, we again presented each chicken with the two plates of cottage cheese and measured the amount of time before the chickens began to consume cottage cheese and the number of pecks the chickens made to each cottage cheese plate during a two minute interval. Two trials were conducted; the first was conducted before the chickens were subjected to confinement and the second was conducted after the chickens were subjected to confinement for 15 hours. We found that the difference in the time lapsed before the chickens began to consume the cottage cheese before and after confinement was significant, though the difference in the number of pecks was not. These results suggest that confinement distresses chickens, as it impairs associative learning without inducing confusion.

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chicken learning ability confinement associative learning
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