Article from Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph
Working with animals in scientific research is a necessity that many modern researchers cannot ignore. From behavior studies to the creation of animal models, the use of animals can penetrate a broad range of scientific disciplines. The work itself is often pleasurable for both researcher and participant but unfortunately, poses several challenges that can slow down experimental progress. One critical problem, seen in egg-laying hens (laying hens), is their reluctance toward being handled by humans.
In this study, conducted by Dr. Audrey Elias and Dr. Alexandra Harlander, we aim to understand the biomechanics of laying hen movement better. Part of this study requires the transfer of the hens from their home pen to a test room; this task is often accomplished by handling the birds and bringing them to the test room against their desire to remain in their pen. The following video highlights the opposite, however. In it Rahul (Co-op student pictured ) has taught the hens to follow him to the test room, avoiding the need to handle said birds. Not only does this demonstrate the capacity a hen has to learn but also the capacity it has to trust. From a commercial aviary where she had limited human contact, it appears that she has gained a level of comfort with people that we would expect to be reserved only for domestic pets. Observing her cooperativity has been a rewarding experience for all researchers involved and truly highlights how treating an animal with respect and care can lead to amazing results.