For calmer chickens, bathe eggs in light | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Science News is a nonprofit.

Help us keep you informed.


Teaser

For calmer chickens, bathe eggs in light

Incubating eggs in hours of light means chicks less skittish

By
2:00pm, February 6, 2017
chicken eggs incubating

GROUP LIFE Shining light on incubating eggs could make adult broiler chickens less fearful, a new study suggests.

Fearful, flighty chickens raised for eating can hurt themselves while trying to avoid human handlers. But there may be a simple way to hatch calmer chicks: Shine light on the eggs for at least 12 hours a day.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis bathed eggs daily in light for different time periods during their three-week incubation. When the chickens reached 3 to 6 weeks old, the scientists tested the birds’ fear responses. In one test, 120 chickens were randomly selected from the 1,006-bird sample and placed one by one in a box with a human “predator” sitting visibly nearby. The chickens incubated in light the longest — 12 hours — made an average of 179 distress calls in three minutes, compared with 211 from birds incubated in complete darkness, animal scientists Gregory Archer and Joy Mench report in January in Applied Animal Behaviour

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More Atom & Cosmos articles

From the Nature Index Paid Content