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Behavioral regulators in the brain of neonatal chicks

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Domestic chickens are precocial and therefore have relatively well-developed processes at hatch. As a result, neonatal chicks grow well at hatch with no parental care. The regulation of food intake in animals, including domestic birds, is complicated. Just after hatching, neonatal chicks find their food by themselves and they can control their food intake. Recently, prolactin releasing peptide and gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone were confirmed as central orexigenic factors in the neonatal chick. Both peptides have a common structure as RFamide peptides. On the other hand, vasoactive intestinal peptide and pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide, both belonging to the glucagon superfamily, were recognized as inhibitory. Broiler chicks have either a greater capability to acclimatize to novel environments, or a blunted hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis compared with layer chicks. These differences are explained by higher melatonin concentrations in the pineal gland and other parts of the brain of broiler chicks since melatonin attenuates the stress response. Stressful behavior in chicks can be attenuated by neurotransmitters or by nutrients such as creatine, phosphatidylserine, L-serine and (-)-epigallocatechin gallate. It is suggested that the regulation of behavior is somewhat specific and can be attenuated by some manipulation in neonatal chicks.
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Keywords: broiler; corticotropin-releasing factor; layer; nutrients; stress

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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