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The Feeding Behaviour of Domestic Chicks as a Function of Rate of Pecking By a Surrogate Companion

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The feeding behaviour of chicks was observed in the presence of a model hen that was made to peck at rates of 30, 60, 120, and 240 per min. under two conditions of presentation: with the beak striking the floor to make a tapping sound and with the beak failing to strike the floor for silent pecking. Tapping sounds were also presented at the four rates while the model remained notionless. Under the silent pecking conditions, the number of food pecks emitted by the subjects was found to increase with the rate of pecking by the model. The addition of the tapping sound enhanced this effect, particularly at the two higher rates. The tapping sounds alone had no apparent effect upon the feeding behaviour of the chicks. It was concluded that the pecking movements of companions can be important in controlling the feeding behaviour of chicks. The tapping sound was tentatively interpreted as a general motivator.

Affiliations: 1: University of Victoria, Victoria, B. C., Canada


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