Conditioning domestic chickens to a magnetic anomaly
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- Denzau, S., Kuriakose, D., Freire, R. et al. J Comp Physiol A (2011) 197: 1137. doi:10.1007/s00359-011-0675-0
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Young domestic chicks of two strains, ISA brown layers and White Leghorn X Australorps, were trained to associate a magnetic anomaly with food. This was done by feeding them in their housing boxes from a dish placed above a small coil that produced a magnetic anomaly roughly six times as strong as the local geomagnetic field. Unrewarded tests began on day 9 after hatching. In a square arena, two corresponding coils were placed underneath two opposite corners. One coil, the control coil, was double-wrapped producing no net magnetic field, while the other in the opposite corner produced a local magnetic anomaly similar to that experienced during feeding. The chicks favoured the corner with the anomaly from day 10 after hatching onward. Both strains of chickens showed this preference, indicating that they could sense the local changes in the magnetic field.