Next Article in Journal
How Farm Animals React and Perceive Stressful Situations Such As Handling, Restraint, and Transport
Next Article in Special Issue
Opinion of Belgian Egg Farmers on Hen Welfare and Its Relationship with Housing Type
Previous Article in Journal
A Review of Different Stunning Methods for Poultry—Animal Welfare Aspects (Stunning Methods for Poultry)
Previous Article in Special Issue
Early Onset of Laying and Bumblefoot Favor Keel Bone Fractures
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Animals 2015, 5(4), 1220-1232;

Artificially Increased Yolk Hormone Levels and Neophobia in Domestic Chicks

1,2,3,4,* , 1,2,3,4
Physiologie de la Reproduction et des Comportements, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), UMR85, Nouzilly 37380, France
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), UMR7247, Nouzilly 37380, France
Université François Rabelais de Tours, Tours 37000, France
Institut Français du Cheval et de l’Equitation (IFCE), Nouzilly 37380, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Christine Nicol and T. Bas Rodenburg
Received: 14 October 2015 / Revised: 20 November 2015 / Accepted: 20 November 2015 / Published: 30 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Poultry Welfare)
Full-Text   |   PDF [279 KB, uploaded 30 November 2015]   |  


In birds there is compelling evidence that the development and expression of behavior is affected by maternal factors, particularly via variation in yolk hormone concentrations of maternal origin. In the present study we tested whether variation in yolk hormone levels lead to variation in the expression of neophobia in young domestic chicks. Understanding how the prenatal environment could predispose chicks to express fear-related behaviors is essential in order to propose preventive actions and improve animal welfare. We simulated the consequences of a maternal stress by experimentally enhancing yolk progesterone, testosterone and estradiol concentrations in hen eggs prior to incubation. The chicks from these hormone-treated eggs (H) and from sham embryos (C) that received the vehicle-only were exposed to novel food, novel object and novel environment tests. H chicks approached a novel object significantly faster and were significantly more active in a novel environment than controls, suggesting less fearfulness. Conversely, no effect of the treatment was found in food neophobia tests. Our study highlights a developmental influence of yolk hormones on a specific aspect of neophobia. The results suggest that increased yolk hormone levels modulate specifically the probability of exploring novel environments or novel objects in the environment. View Full-Text
Keywords: yolk hormones; maternal effects; neophobia; fear; behavioral development yolk hormones; maternal effects; neophobia; fear; behavioral development

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Bertin, A.; Arnould, C.; Moussu, C.; Meurisse, M.; Constantin, P.; Leterrier, C.; Calandreau, L. Artificially Increased Yolk Hormone Levels and Neophobia in Domestic Chicks. Animals 2015, 5, 1220-1232.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Animals EISSN 2076-2615 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top