maternal behaviour


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Joined:Thu Mar 26, 2009 2:09 am
maternal behaviour

Post by Recio » Mon Jun 16, 2014 11:17 am

Hi everybody,

Is maternal behaviour genetic or acquired? Do good mothers pass their behaviour to her daugthers within the genetic material or this is something learned by the chicks from their mother's behaviour?

This question can be easily answered by those with a long experience in fostering birds.



Joined:Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:49 pm
Location:Washington state, USA

Re: maternal behaviour

Post by SunniDai » Mon Jun 16, 2014 11:21 am

And what about those who have been hand fed? Where do they learn their maternal instinct from? (just to add another question haha)


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Joined:Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:17 am
Location:Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Re: maternal behaviour

Post by ellieelectrons » Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:42 pm

Based on my sample of one, coupled with the readings I've done, I'd say it's genetic. Janey was handraised from quite young (not by me). When we get to breeding season, her attitude towards me changes. She becomes very aggressive especially when it comes to possible nest sites. The first year it happened I eventually gave her a nestbox and she laid 5 eggs and she was fiercely protective of them. If she saw I was going to look in the nestbox, she'd charge in there to stop me having any access to them whatsoever. Generally, I would have thought a tame bird wouldn't mind her human companion looking at her eggs but it was not the case for me. The eggs never hatched so I can't tell you whether she was a good mother.

I hope you don't mind my reply here, I couldn't resist even though I don't really have enough evidence to base my response on. :)

I hope you get some more qualified replies soon!


Joined:Sun Oct 06, 2013 11:45 pm

Re: maternal behaviour

Post by Mikesringnecks » Mon Jun 16, 2014 9:24 pm

Hi Recio
I have an experience very similar to eleetronics except that my hen does hatch eggs and raise chicks. She is brilliant mother but fiercely defends the nest once it contains eggs. In the off season, she wants to be stoked and hand fed, whilst in the breeding season I have to enter her breeding space in a hooded top and with leather gloves, (she is particularly good at finding exposed skin).
This bird was intensively hand raised from about a week or two old when a swarm of bees tried to occupy the nest box. She was very badly stung, including 2 in the crop, which meant she couldn't hold food so she had to be fed 2 hourly including night time to some extent. She has a mate these days that she divorces in the off season in favor of me but he does help her until the chicks are a month or so old and they do of course also mate successfully.
I guess she could have learned a bit in her first 2 weeks but I am inclined to the view that her breeding behavior is primarily genetically derived. I generally don't find that parent raised hens perform better as parents than hand raised hens, more like the reverse.
Kind regards

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