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Behav Genet. 2007 Mar;37(2):399-407.

Plumage color and feather pecking--behavioral differences associated with PMEL17 genotypes in chicken (Gallus gallus).

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Department of Biology IFM, Linköping University, SE-58183, Linköping, Sweden.


An F (5) generation of an advanced inter-cross between red junglefowl (wild-type) and White Leghorn (domesticated) was used to investigate earlier findings suggesting that a mutation in the plumage color gene PMEL17 protects against victimization to feather pecking (FP). F (4) parents were selected according to genotype to produce PMEL17 homozygous offspring (i/i and I/I respectively). Birds were raised and their behavior recorded in groups of either two wild-type i/i (dark colored) and one white I/I, or two I/I and one i/i. In addition each bird was tested for feather preference, reaction to novelty, open-field activity, fear for humans, and tonic-immobility. In the home-pens, i/i birds were more feather pecked and had poorer feather condition than I/I birds. No pecking preference for immobile dark colored feathers was observed. In the open-field test i/i birds vocalized more and earlier than I/I birds, and in the fear-for-human test I/I birds had higher activity at 21 weeks of age. No other behavior differences were observed, but clearly, genotypes of PMEL17 affected some aspects of behavior. Such behavioral differences might be important aspects of the mechanism which predispose i/i individuals for being victims of FP.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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