Scaring hens for science

25 06 2014

This chicken is wearing a backpack to assess how forcefully she jumps when scared with a bullhorn.

Bit of an ironic thing to do in the name of welfare, but for her summer project, Coursework Masters student Elyse Germaine (working with me and Tina) is investigating whether startle responses — well validated as indicators of affective state for mammals — are useful indicators of avian well-being too. If she’s right, then happy hens (fed treats, with companions & given peatmoss to dustbathe in) will startle less than birds in a negative state (isolated & roughly handled). We hope to know by the end of August…

Hen with backpack