Listen to mother

时间:2019-03-08 08:19:25166网络整理admin

By Debora MacKenzie THE clucks and grunts of the farmyard may be incomprehensible to us, but they mean a lot to the animals. Now Canadian scientists have found that they can encourage poultry and pigs to eat by playing them sounds the animals associate with feeding. “We recorded the sound a mother hen makes when she finds something she wants her chicks to eat,” says Luis Bate of the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island. When the researchers played the hen’s clucking back through speakers placed near a food source, the chicks would come and feed even though the hen was not there. The sounds made by mother turkeys had the same effect on their young. Bate says that the birds can detect subtle differences. “When we played them the sound a mother hen makes after chicks hatch, which to my ear sounds identical to the feeding call, the chicks became immobile.” During the initial experiments, chicks that were played the feeding calls grew up to 20 per cent more rapidly in their first three weeks. When the tests were repeated in barns holding thousands of chicks this improvement dropped to between two and four per cent. Bate believes that the speakers used for these tests did not reproduce the sounds accurately enough. Bate and his team have also managed to make piglets grow faster. Sows generally suckle once an hour, and for pigs housed together, nursing is synchronised by the sows’ vocalisations. By playing recordings of these sounds, the researchers persuaded the animals to nurse once every 50 minutes. More frequently,