Identification of quantitative trait loci for receiving pecks in young and adult laying hens

A.J. Buitenhuis, T.B. Rodenburg, M.Z. Siwek-Gapinska, S.J.B. Cornelissen, M.G.B. Nieuwland, R.P.M.A. Crooijmans, M.A.M. Groenen, P. Koene, H. Bovenhuis, J.J. van der Poel

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Feather pecking (FP) is a major problem in cage and free-range housing systems. In free-range systems, FP is more difficult to control. It is not known why a victim is being pecked. It could be that a bird is genetically predisposed to be pecked. To study the genetics of FP behavior, a large F2 population of 630 hens was generated from a cross between two commercial laying lines differing in their propensity to feather peck. The traits measured at 6 and 30 wk of age were receiving gentle FP, receiving severe FP, and receiving aggressive pecking. In addition, receiving toe pecking (TP) was also measured at 30 wk of age. For receiving gentle FP at 6 wk of age, a significant QTL on GGA1 and three different suggestive QTL were identified on GGA2, GGA6, and GGA7, respectively. For receiving gentle FP at 30 wk of age, a suggestive QTL on GGA5 was detected. For receiving aggressive pecking, a suggestive QTL was detected on GGA3. For receiving TP, three suggestive QTL were detected on GGA1, GGA5, and GGA23, respectively. The different QTL detected for receiving gentle FP at different ages indicate that this trait is regulated by different genes in young and adult hens
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1661-1667
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • feather-pecking
  • tonic immobility
  • domestic chicks
  • red junglefowl
  • open-field
  • behavior
  • pigs
  • cannibalism
  • amputation
  • poultry


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