dr.ir. TB (Bas) Rodenburg

dr.ir. TB (Bas) Rodenburg

Externe medewerker

Curriculum Vitae

Bas Rodenburg studied biology at Wageningen University and graduated in 1998. In 2003, he received his PhD from that same university. For his PhD research he focused on feather pecking behaviour in laying hens and how that is related with other behavioural characteristics, such as the ability to cope with fear and stress. After obtaining his PhD, he worked at Livestock Research in Lelystad and at the ILVO in Ghent, Belgium, focusing on research in the area of poultry behaviour and welfare. In 2006, Bas returned to Wageningen on a personal VENI-grant to investigate the effects of genetic selection and of early-life environment on behaviour of group-housed laying hens. He was recently project leader of a research program aiming to translate scientific knowledge on feather pecking to commercial practice. For his future research, Bas would be interested to further investigate how individual animals affect the social dynamics of large groups and how this can be modified by genetic selection and early-life environment.  


Research interests

  • Social behaviour
  • Maladaptive behaviour
  • Poultry welfare
  • Social Networks
  • Animal Personality
  • Behavioural Development
  • Maternal effects
  • Behaviour genetics
  • Early-life conditions


Project overview

  • Social behaviour

This research line focuses on how individual animals affect the social dynamics of their social group and how this is affected by genetic selection and early-life environment. In laying hens we have shown that selection for low mortality in group housing led to birds that had a better ability to cope with fear and stress and that this translated to lower levels of damaging behaviour at group level. In many cases, the genetic effects were similar and additive to the effects of providing maternal care. In pigs, we investigated how the behavioural characteristics of pigs change if you select for improved group performance and how this affects positive and negative social interactions.


  • Feather pecking

Feather pecking remains a major welfare issue in the poultry industry. Although a large body of scientific knowledge is available, this is not translated to commercial practice. Our recent project investigated how we can reduce feather pecking in commercial flocks, by optimizing management throughout the laying hen production chain. In commercial parent stock, rearing and laying hen flocks, we investigated how stress in the parents translates to the offspring and how rearing environment and behavioural characteristics affect the development of feather pecking (PhD student Elske de Haas, WUR Adaptation Physiology). A second PhD student within this project investigated relationships between feather pecking behaviour and the brain (PhD student Marjolein Kops, Utrecht University). Currently, we investigate the relationship between feather pecking and gut microbiota in lines selected for high and low feather pecking (PhD student Jerine van der Eijk). Further, Bas Rodenburg is co-supervisor of similar research projects on this topic at NVH (Norway) and the University of Guelph (Canada).