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Abstract

Confining an adult hen with two newly-hatched chicks induced a gradual emergence of maternal behaviour in the hen. The aim of the experiments presented here was to analyse the effects of testosterone or oestradiol treatments on the induction and maintenance of maternal behaviour in hens with no previous maternal experience. The ability of a hen to positively respond towards chicks was not altered by either testosterone or oestradiol injections. However, testosterone therapy prevented both the appearance and the maintenance of the most typical call, clucking. Testosterone injected hens responded to chicks with a contact-type call, but oestradiol treated ones did not. These results indicate that some aspects of maternal behaviour can be modulated by peripheral levels of hormones.