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Hand-rearing reduces fear of humans in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris.

Feenders G, Bateson M - PLoS ONE (2011)

Bottom Line: We found no effects of environmental enrichment.In demonstrating reduced fear of humans in hand-reared birds, our results support one of the proposed welfare benefits of this practice, but without further data on the possible welfare costs of hand-rearing, it is not yet possible to reach a general conclusion about its net welfare impact.However, our results confirm a clear scientific impact of both hand-rearing and cage position at the behavioural level.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Centre for Behaviour and Evolution, Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. Gesa.Feenders@newcastle.ac.uk

ABSTRACT
Pending changes in European legislation ban the use of wild-caught animals in research. This change is partly justified on the assumption that captive-breeding (or hand-rearing) increases welfare of captive animals because these practices result in animals with reduced fear of humans. However, there are few actual data on the long-term behavioural effects of captive-breeding in non-domestic species, and these are urgently needed in order to understand the welfare and scientific consequences of adopting this practice. We compared the response of hand-reared and wild-caught starlings to the presence of a human in the laboratory. During human presence, all birds increased their general locomotor activity but the wild-caught birds moved away from the human and were less active than the hand-reared birds. After the human departed, the wild-caught birds were slower to decrease their activity back towards baseline levels, and showed a dramatic increase in time at the periphery of the cage compared with the hand-reared birds. We interpret these data as showing evidence of a greater fear response in wild-caught birds with initial withdrawal followed by a subsequent rebound of prolonged attempts to escape the cage. We found no effects of environmental enrichment. However, birds in cages on low shelves were less active than birds on upper shelves, and showed a greater increase in the time spent at the periphery of their cages after the human departed, perhaps indicating that the lower cages were more stressful. In demonstrating reduced fear of humans in hand-reared birds, our results support one of the proposed welfare benefits of this practice, but without further data on the possible welfare costs of hand-rearing, it is not yet possible to reach a general conclusion about its net welfare impact. However, our results confirm a clear scientific impact of both hand-rearing and cage position at the behavioural level.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Experimental set up.Left panel: side view of a cage with furnishings. Right panel: top view of a cage as seen on the video images. For the automatic tracking of the bird in the cage, distinct locations of the cage were allocated to areas of this image. Areas hatched in white were combined as “peripheral locations” for analysis (this must not be confused with the “front” and “back” section (not illustrated), where the full cage is split along its longitudinal axis).
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pone-0017466-g001: Experimental set up.Left panel: side view of a cage with furnishings. Right panel: top view of a cage as seen on the video images. For the automatic tracking of the bird in the cage, distinct locations of the cage were allocated to areas of this image. Areas hatched in white were combined as “peripheral locations” for analysis (this must not be confused with the “front” and “back” section (not illustrated), where the full cage is split along its longitudinal axis).

Mentions: For the experiment, starlings were individually housed in cages (100×45×45 cm WDH) constructed with solid floors and side walls, wire mesh fronts and backs and transparent Plexiglas roofs. Eight such cages were arranged on two rows of shelves (at 38 and 120 cm height, designated ‘low’ and ‘high’ respectively) in the experimental room such that there were four cages on the low level and four on the high level; the arrangement allowed each bird to see 4 to 6 other birds. Each cage was fitted with an overhead surveillance camera (Atom, CSP Technology, UK) connected to a computer in a separate room that could be used for remote observation and video recording. Four of the cages (two high and two low) were environmentally enriched with a plastic tray filled with wood chips as a natural probing substrate, a water bath filled with water at all times, and a little hide on the distal end of one of the two perches (Figure 1a). Previous studies have shown that these enrichments are likely to improve the welfare of caged starlings [23], [24], [26]. The other four cages were fitted with empty plastic tray and water bath. In the non-enriched cages the bath was filled twice a week for one hour to ensure good hygiene.


Hand-rearing reduces fear of humans in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris.

Feenders G, Bateson M - PLoS ONE (2011)

Experimental set up.Left panel: side view of a cage with furnishings. Right panel: top view of a cage as seen on the video images. For the automatic tracking of the bird in the cage, distinct locations of the cage were allocated to areas of this image. Areas hatched in white were combined as “peripheral locations” for analysis (this must not be confused with the “front” and “back” section (not illustrated), where the full cage is split along its longitudinal axis).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3045461&req=5

pone-0017466-g001: Experimental set up.Left panel: side view of a cage with furnishings. Right panel: top view of a cage as seen on the video images. For the automatic tracking of the bird in the cage, distinct locations of the cage were allocated to areas of this image. Areas hatched in white were combined as “peripheral locations” for analysis (this must not be confused with the “front” and “back” section (not illustrated), where the full cage is split along its longitudinal axis).
Mentions: For the experiment, starlings were individually housed in cages (100×45×45 cm WDH) constructed with solid floors and side walls, wire mesh fronts and backs and transparent Plexiglas roofs. Eight such cages were arranged on two rows of shelves (at 38 and 120 cm height, designated ‘low’ and ‘high’ respectively) in the experimental room such that there were four cages on the low level and four on the high level; the arrangement allowed each bird to see 4 to 6 other birds. Each cage was fitted with an overhead surveillance camera (Atom, CSP Technology, UK) connected to a computer in a separate room that could be used for remote observation and video recording. Four of the cages (two high and two low) were environmentally enriched with a plastic tray filled with wood chips as a natural probing substrate, a water bath filled with water at all times, and a little hide on the distal end of one of the two perches (Figure 1a). Previous studies have shown that these enrichments are likely to improve the welfare of caged starlings [23], [24], [26]. The other four cages were fitted with empty plastic tray and water bath. In the non-enriched cages the bath was filled twice a week for one hour to ensure good hygiene.

Bottom Line: We found no effects of environmental enrichment.In demonstrating reduced fear of humans in hand-reared birds, our results support one of the proposed welfare benefits of this practice, but without further data on the possible welfare costs of hand-rearing, it is not yet possible to reach a general conclusion about its net welfare impact.However, our results confirm a clear scientific impact of both hand-rearing and cage position at the behavioural level.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Centre for Behaviour and Evolution, Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. Gesa.Feenders@newcastle.ac.uk

ABSTRACT
Pending changes in European legislation ban the use of wild-caught animals in research. This change is partly justified on the assumption that captive-breeding (or hand-rearing) increases welfare of captive animals because these practices result in animals with reduced fear of humans. However, there are few actual data on the long-term behavioural effects of captive-breeding in non-domestic species, and these are urgently needed in order to understand the welfare and scientific consequences of adopting this practice. We compared the response of hand-reared and wild-caught starlings to the presence of a human in the laboratory. During human presence, all birds increased their general locomotor activity but the wild-caught birds moved away from the human and were less active than the hand-reared birds. After the human departed, the wild-caught birds were slower to decrease their activity back towards baseline levels, and showed a dramatic increase in time at the periphery of the cage compared with the hand-reared birds. We interpret these data as showing evidence of a greater fear response in wild-caught birds with initial withdrawal followed by a subsequent rebound of prolonged attempts to escape the cage. We found no effects of environmental enrichment. However, birds in cages on low shelves were less active than birds on upper shelves, and showed a greater increase in the time spent at the periphery of their cages after the human departed, perhaps indicating that the lower cages were more stressful. In demonstrating reduced fear of humans in hand-reared birds, our results support one of the proposed welfare benefits of this practice, but without further data on the possible welfare costs of hand-rearing, it is not yet possible to reach a general conclusion about its net welfare impact. However, our results confirm a clear scientific impact of both hand-rearing and cage position at the behavioural level.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus