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Chikken science


You know I’ve always told you that a chicken’s position in the flock is signaled by the size of her comb? Well, I found me a gat-dang scholarly article about it.

The question of whether attributes of the combs of laying hens have any consistent relationship with dominance behaviour has yet to be answered unequivocally.

Nonsense! I told you it did, didn’t I?

Pullets (n = 120, Hy-line® Variety Brown) were allocated randomly to eight groups of 15 hens for 32 weeks. Over this period the length and height of each hen’s comb was measured regularly to estimate the total comb area and hens were weighed. In weeks 3–10 the aggressive interactions between hens in each group were observed to calculate a behavioural dominance score (David’s score) for each hen.

David’s score is a measure of the dominance of a single member of any group of animals using the formula DS(interactionmatrix, prop=c(“Pij”, “Dij”)). No, I’m not shitting you. No, I don’t have a clue. Google if you math.

The luminance, purity and dominant wavelength of the colour of each hen’s comb was measured in week 27 using a telespectroradiometer.

What would you give — WHAT WOULD YOU GIVE — to watch an actual scientist apply a telespectroradiometer to a chicken’s floopy red hat?

There was no association between body weight and dominance score but there was a significant inverse relationship between dominance score and the dominant wavelength of the comb (gradient of slope = −0.067 ± 0.023, P < 0.01).

I buy this. My dominant hen is the smallest in the flock. She’s a fearsome little beast. Though I’m not entirely sure about the gradient of the slope of the dominant wavelength of her headgear, TBH.

This indicated that hens with combs perceived by humans as more yellow-red than pure red were generally more successful competitors. Further research is required to ascertain whether or not hens utilise this information on comb size and the underexplored area of comb colour to assess the competitive ability of their opponents.

“Stay away from Edna today, fam — she’s looking a little orange, iykwim.”

The underexplored area of comb colour. Hoo! Why didn’t I go into chikken science for reals? Oh, yeah…I can’t math.

Anyway, there you have Violence the Chicken as a young layer and three years later as Boss Lady.

Two of the three new girls are laying for sure. Possibly all three, but I haven’t caught Colette on the nest yet. When I stuck my head in the coop this morning, Rosie was on the nest and she shrieked at me. It really is like walking in on a teenager in the bathroom.


Comment from dissent555
Time: August 18, 2016, 10:24 pm

Sounds like this will require a protractor and some graph paper.

Maybe a slide rule.

Comment from dissent555
Time: August 18, 2016, 10:31 pm

And I have some tables of logarithms. In a box. Somewhere.

I’ll look …..

Comment from Brother Cavil, Nie Mój Cyrk, Nie Moje Małpy
Time: August 18, 2016, 11:09 pm

Wow. Looking at the face she definitely looks meaner in the second picture…

Comment from Crabby Old Bat
Time: August 18, 2016, 11:36 pm

What are the appropriate mathematical algorithms for use in measuring Resting Bitch Face? Because that face is telling me “I will PECK you” much more than the stylish comb.

Comment from Mr. Dave
Time: August 19, 2016, 4:19 pm

I want to talk about chikken rumps. That there triangular chunk where the tail feathers attach, what’s that called? You know, the part that goes over the fence last? My ancestors called it the Wilkie Button. My grandpa called it the fuel pump. I have no idea why.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 19, 2016, 5:58 pm

Preacher’s nose in the States, parson’s nose in the UK. Near as I can figure it, it’s technically just called the tail, though the bone underneath is the pygostyle. If you want to sound all science-y and shit.

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: August 19, 2016, 9:23 pm

So you are saying that chickens suffer from the Napolean Syndrome? Littlist bird is the baddest meanist fightingist one of the flock?

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