Thwarting of behaviour in different contexts and the gakel-call in the laying hen

P.H. Zimmerman, P. Koene, J.A.R.A.M. van Hooff

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38 Citations (Scopus)


Earlier studies have shown that thwarting of feeding behaviour in the laying hen is expressed through a specific vocalisation, the gakel-call. The first aim of this study was to investigate whether the effect of deprivation per se on the occurrence of gakel-calls can be distinguished from the effect of the additional frustration. Frustration is defined as the state of an animal that results from nonreward in the expectancy of reward. The second aim was to investigate whether the occurrence of gakel-calls is restricted to a food context or whether it can be regarded as an expression of frustration in general. For this purpose, 20 hens were deprived of food, water and dustbath. After deprivation at a fixed time, a cue was given and the hens were rewarded with access to food, water or dust during a 15-min session on 4 consecutive days. On the fifth day, they were thwarted in the associated behaviours by blocking the access to these commodities, after the hens had been presented the signal that previously preceded the reward. We then recorded behaviours that might reflect the state of frustration in three 15-min periods. The period "Pre-Frustration" started 15 min before "Frustration". This, in turn, was followed by the period "Post-frustration" in which the hens were rewarded again. Nesting behaviour was thwarted by blocking the access to the nest (Frustration) after a hen had reached the last stage of its prelaying behaviour.In the food, water and dustbath context, deprivation elicited gakel-calls. The additional frustration resulted in a higher number of gakel-calls in all contexts except the food context. However, together with the findings of previous experiments, the results of this study suggest that frustration, in general, is expressed through the gakel-call. Frustration in the nest context elicited more gakel-calls than the other contexts. This latter finding is discussed in the light of the occurrence of the gakel-call under natural circumstances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-264
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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