For applied animal behaviour, the focus of the Behavioural Ecology Group is on social behaviour in farm animal and its effects on animal welfare. The research focuses mainly on laying hens, but in collaboration with other groups within the Centre for Animal Welfare and Adaptation (CAWA) also research on other species is conducted.
We are interested in the question how personality traits of an individual affect its social behaviour, but also how this affects the individual’s social environment. Further, we investigate how genetic background and early-life experiences influence these individual personality traits and how this affects the social group in their ability to cope with stress.
Specific research topics we are currently working on include:
- Preventing feather pecking in commercial flocks of laying hens
- The effect of group composition on the ability to cope with fear and stress
- Is fear in young animals predictive of coping ability later in life?
- Emotional contagion in farm animals (laying hens and pigs)
- Effects of stress on behavioural development of large groups of laying hens
- Cognition in relation to personality, early development and social behaviour
For a list of specific thesis topics, please follow http://tip.wur.nl.