In chickens, food consumption can be altered by exposing the chicks to scents as embryos. We exposed eggs to an orange-scented food additive in the final days of incubation. Following hatching, we tested these exposed chicks’ ability to detect this scent at a variety of concentrations. We found that orange-exposed chicks responded to an orange-scented solution at lower concentrations than control chicks. This sensitization may allow chicks to be more effective at locating acceptable food items but requires further testing to determine its significance. Orange-exposed and control chicks were also tested with the scent of raspberry. Orange-exposed chicks responded to the raspberry presentation significantly more than the control chicks did, suggesting that the embryonic exposure to orange may have influenced how the chicks responded towards another fruity smell. This result suggests that chicks may be learning general characteristics of exposed scents while in the egg, though this needs further research.
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Bertin, A., Calandreau, L., Arnould, C., Nowak, R., Levy, F., Noirot, V., Bouvarel, I. & Leterrier, C. (2010). In ovo olfactory experience influences post-hatch feeding behaviour in young chickens: prehatch olfaction and feeding. — Ethology116: 1027-1037.
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