chicken parental care welfare farming
The two major ecotypes of Nigerian indigenous chickens are Fulani and Yoruba ecotypes. The Nigerian indigenous hens exhibit their natural behaviour repertoire, including maternal care. There is a strong bond between the hen and her chicks. Thereby making the importance of maternal care in chickens very essential. Chicks raised without a mother are more fearful and aggressive. The presence of the mother helps to mediate the chicks' responses to stress. Reports on the behaviour of Nigerian indigenous chicks post-hatch are scanty. In this study, we monitored the behaviour of the hens and their brood for the first four weeks post-hatch. The behaviours of interest were chick warming, play-related (mother-chick and chick-chick play), aggression (mother trampling on chicks, maternal aggression towards chicks, mother pecking chicks), and oral-related (feeding, drinking, and foraging) behaviours. Ecotype had no influence on chick warming, but aggressive and oral-related behaviours were greater in the Yoruba than in Fulani ecotype chickens.