Analysis of severe feather pecking behavior in a high feather pecking selection line

R Labouriau, J B Kjaer, G C G Abreu, J Hedegaard, A J Buitenhuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Even though feather pecking (FP) in laying hens has been extensively studied, a good solution to prevent chickens from this behavior under commercial circumstances has not been found. Selection against FP behavior is possible, but for a more effective selection across different populations, it is necessary to characterize the genetic mechanism associated with this behavior. In this study, we use a high FP selection line, which has been selected for 8 generations. We present evidence of the presence of a major dominant allele affecting the FP behavior by using an argument based on the presence of mixture in the distribution of the observed FP and by studying the evolution of the proportion of very high FP along the sequence of 8 generations. This hypothesis is further supported by the fact that the gene transcription profile of the birds performing high FP differs from the profile of the other birds performing FP (456 genes differentially expressed from a total of 14,077 investigated genes).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2052-62
Number of pages11
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Chickens
  • Feathers
  • Female
  • Models, Genetic
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Phenotype
  • RNA
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Selection, Genetic


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