Location: Livestock Behavior Research
Project Number: 3602-32000-011-02
Start Date: Feb 01, 2011
End Date: Jan 31, 2014
A total of 1,064 White Leghorn females of the Hy-Line W36 strain will be used in the study. Chickens will be raised at the Purdue University Poultry Research Farm using standard management practices. Beak trimming will be done prior to 10 days of age to prevent cannibalism. At 17 wk of age, 324 pullets will be transferred to 36 laying cages housed in one room of Management House II. Half of the cages will be retrofitted with a perch, while the other 18 cages will be without a perch. Samples (spinal cord, brain, and blood), legs, and behaviors will be collected at 3, 6 12 and 72 weeks of age (one bird/cage, n=12/time point calculated based on alpha = 0.05 and 1-beta = 0.80). Brain and blood samples will be analyzed for changes in pain-associated neuropeptides (substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide), corticosterone, and immune function (T- and B-lymphocytes) using HPLC, RIA, or qt-PCR. Perch-associated changes in behaviors will also be analyzed. In addition, mortality data, body weight, feather score, feed intake, egg production, and feed efficiency will be collected. Data will be compared statistically between the treatments.