Mapping quantative trait loci affecting feather pecking behaviour and stress response in laying hens

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


In the European Union, legislation concerning animal housing is becoming stricter because of animal welfare concerns. Feather pecking (FP) in large group housing systems is a major problem. It has been suggested that corticosterone (CORT) response to manual restraint as a measure for stress is associated with FP behavior. The aim of the current study was to identify QTL involved in FP behavior and stress response in laying hens. An F-2 population of 630 hens was established from a cross between two commercial lines of laying hens differing in their propensity to feather peck. The behavioral traits, measured at 6 and 30 wk of age, were gentle FP, severe FP, and aggressive pecking. Toe pecking was measured at 30 wk of age and CORT response to manual restraint was measured at 32 wk. All animals were genotyped for 180 microsatellite markers. A QTL analysis was performed using a regression interval mapping method. At 6 wk of age, a suggestive QTL on GGA10 was detected for gentle FP. At 30 wk of age, suggestive QTL were detected on GGA1 and GGA2 for gentle FP. A significant QTL was detected on GGA2 for severe FP. At 32 wk of age, a suggestive QTL was detected on GGA18 for CORT response to manual restraint. In addition, a suggestive QTL was detected on GGA5 with possible maternal parent-of-origin effect for CORT response.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1215-1222
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • gallus-gallus-domesticus
  • diallel cross
  • corticosterone
  • chicks
  • lines
  • pigs
  • igf2
  • catecholamine
  • restraint
  • selection

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Mapping quantative trait loci affecting feather pecking behaviour and stress response in laying hens'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this