Do hens have friends? It seems not

January 18, 2013
Do hens have friends? It seems not!

(Phys.org)—A Royal Veterinary College study has found that hens reared in commercial conditions do not form friendships and are not particular about who they spend time with.

The research published by Applied Science on 15th January 2013, was carried out to discover if the welfare of chickens could be improved by taking advantage of 'friendships'.

Dr Siobhan Abeyesinghe, from the Royal Veterinary College, said: "We investigated the possibility that domesticated egg-laying hens form distinct 'friendships' by examining whether or not individual chickens were particular about who they spent most time with. This is not so odd a question you might think: in humans and other species, friendships have been shown to enrich life positively, buffer against and even improve .

The movements of eight identical groups of 15 laying hens were monitored over eight weeks examining whether pairs of birds were found together more often then expected by chance when they were active and when roosting at night.

"We found no evidence to suggest that modern hens reared in commercial conditions form such friendships, even when they are housed in small groups where it is possible to know every other bird. This suggests that, at present, fostering of friendships cannot be used as a way to improve the welfare of chicken.

More research is now required to determine whether this apparent lack of 'BFFs' is true of the chicken's ancestor, the Red Junglefowl, or whether the early of domesticated hens affect their formation of specific in later life.

Explore further: MSU studies use of wireless sensors to monitor chicken well-being

More information: Abeyesinghe, S. et al. Do Hens Have Friends? Applied Animal Behaviour Science (2013). dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2012.12.003

Related Stories

Less feather pecking with bitter spray

October 29, 2010

Feather pecking among chickens can be reduced by half if their feathers are sprayed with a bitter substance. Unfortunately, pecking cannot be corrected, says Bas Rodenburg of the Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre of Wageningen ...

The foundations of empathy are found in the chicken

March 9, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A study has gained new insight into the minds of domestic hens, discovering, for the first time, that domestic hens show a clear physiological and behavioural response when their chicks are mildly distressed.

Omega acids could reduce bone breakage in laying hens

April 5, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A study has found that adding the right combination of fatty acids to the diets of laying hens can significantly reduce bone breakage during lay. The research could provide a potentially significant route ...

What's more helpful: The chicken or the egg?

December 23, 2011

Success for Dr. Hoon Sunwoo can be traced back to a research project that began in the 1990’s and is perpetuated through his latest research benefiting the livestock industry.

Verandas and eggshell examination could improve hen welfare

January 19, 2012

The report by academics at the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Sciences, funded by the Morrisons Farming Programme, examined health challenges facing the modern free-range laying hen and identified where improvements ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

4 million years at Africa's salad bar

August 3, 2015

As grasses grew more common in Africa, most major mammal groups tried grazing on them at times during the past 4 million years, but some of the animals went extinct or switched back to browsing on trees and shrubs, according ...

A look at living cells down to individual molecules

August 3, 2015

EPFL scientists have been able to produce footage of the evolution of living cells at a nanoscale resolution by combining atomic force microscopy and an a super resolution optical imaging system that follows molecules that ...

New lizard named after Sir David Attenborough

August 3, 2015

A research team led by Dr Martin Whiting from the Department of Biological Sciences recently discovered a beautifully coloured new species of flat lizard, which they have named Platysaurus attenboroughi, after Sir David Attenborough.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Budding Geologist
not rated yet Jan 19, 2013
I'd think anyone who has owned chickens will not be surprised at this finding... I've seen them peck one another half to death and their eggs.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (1) Jan 22, 2013
This is research imbecile at so many levels with conclusions turned on its head. Just because the hens are stressed with battery farming, they do suffer with submarine syndrome - so they're losing social relations and hierarchies, which are quite apparent in the small groups (which hens do form naturally). Whole this research is apparently motivated with support of large-scale battery farming.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.