Animal behavior is a central part of animal welfare, a keystone in sustainable animal breeding. During domestication, animals have adapted with respect to behavior and an array of other traits. We compared the behavior of junglefowl and White Leghorn layers, selected for egg production (and indirectly for growth). Junglefowl had a more active behavior in social, exploratory, anti-predatory, and feeding tests. A genome scan for Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs) in a junglefowl × White Leghorn intercross revealed several significant or suggestive QTLs for different traits. Some production QTLs coincided with QTLs for behavior, suggesting that pleiotropic effects may be important for the development of domestication phenotypes. One gene has been located, which has a strong effect on the risk of being a victim of feather pecking, a detrimental behavior disorder. Modern genomics paired with analysis of behavior may help in designing more sustainable and robust breeding in the future.
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Vol. 34 • No. 4