Genetic selection for behavioural traits has been carried out traditionally in many domestic animal species before scientific information on the inheritance of traits was available. In some cases the behaviour was the primary purpose for domestication. It is assumed that Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) has been kept and selected for its song prior to selection for egg and meat production. The crow of  roosters was also subject to selection in the past, and some breeds with extended length and frequency of crows are still kept and selected by fancy breeders. First studies using quantitative genetic analysis have been carried out on broodiness in domestic chickens by Saeki (1957). In the 1960`s the social and sexual behaviour was subject to heritability analysis and selection experiments (Guhl et al., 1960; Craig et al., 1965; Siegel, 1965). In the 1970`s and later the welfare discussions raised the questions on adaptability of the animals to intensive husbandry conditions and the behavioural needs of the birds in response to their genetic background. Fear related behaviour, such as tonic immobility, open-field activity, has been studied as a central mechanism to cope with different environmental conditions and unfamiliar stimuli (Jones et al., 1982). The restriction of physical space, lack of litter material and nest boxes in conventional cages has stimulated genetic studies on the locomotor activity, including pre-laying restlessness (Jezierski and Bessei, 1978; Heil, et al., 1990), and dustbathing behaviour (Gerken, 1983).

W. Bessei

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 2002. Session 14, , 14.05, 2002
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