Similarity in Temporal Movement Patterns in Laying Hens Increases with Time and Social Association

Yamenah Gómez*, John Berezowski, Yandy Abreu Jorge, Sabine G. Gebhardt-Henrich, Sabine Vögeli, Ariane Stratmann, Michael Jeffrey Toscano, Bernhard Voelkl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

We explored the relationship between social associations and individual activity patterns in domestic hens. Out of 1420 laying hens, 421 hens were equipped with RFID tags attached to RFID-specific leg bands (leg bands from Company Roxan, Selkirk, Scotland) to continuously track their change in location across four different areas (one indoor and three outdoor areas). Using a combination of social network analysis for quantifying social relationships and dynamic time warping for characterizing the movement patterns of hens, we found that hens were consistent in their individual variation in temporal activity and maintained stable social relationships in terms of preferred association partners. In addition to being consistent, social associations correlated with movement patterns and this correlation strengthened over the period of observation, suggesting that the animals aligned their activity patterns with those of their social affiliates. These results demonstrate the importance of social relationships when considering the expression of individual behaviour. Notably, differences in temporal patterns emerge despite rather homogeneous rearing conditions, same environment, and low genetic diversity. Thus, while variation in behavioural phenotypes can be observed across isolated individuals, this study shows that the social environment within a group can shape and enhance variation in general movement patterns of individual animals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number555
JournalAnimals
Volume12
Issue number5
Early online date23 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusFirst published - 23 Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Behavioural plasticity
  • Individuality
  • Movement pattern
  • Phenotype variation
  • Social network

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