2019 Volume 56 Issue 4 Pages 290-297
Testosterone (T) is known to induce aggressive behavior, mainly in male animals. Subcutaneous implantation of T-filled silastic tubes, rather than intramuscular injection of T, is generally recommended for long-term treatment using exogenous T. However, the effect of T implantation on chicken aggressive behavior has not been investigated. In addition, the concentration of T required to induce aggressive behavior or whether rearing conditions such as isolated- or grouped-raising affect T-induced aggressive behavior in chickens is not known. The present study aimed to examine the relationship between the lengths of T-filled tubes, blood T concentration, and aggressive behavior in group- and isolation-raised male layer chicks. The testes were bilaterally removed and silactic tubes of various lengths filled with crystalline T were subcutaneously implanted at 14 days of age. A social interaction test was performed to quantitatively assess chick aggressive behavior at 32 days of age. Comb weight and size were used to assess the activation of endogenous androgen receptors. Total aggression frequencies (TAF) and aggression establishment rate (AER) were used to evaluate aggressiveness. Significant positive correlations (P<0.001) were observed between the comb parameters and plasma T concentration. In the isolation-raised chicks, the TAF and AER were high irrespective of the lengths of the implanted T tubes or the corresponding plasma T concentrations. However, in the group-raised chicks, the AER tended to differ between the T-implanted aggressors (P=0.0902), and the AER significantly increased with implantation of 1.0-cm-long T-filled tubes (P<0.05), which corresponded to approximately 47 pg/mL plasma T concentration. These results suggest that both grouped raising and approximately 47 pg/mL plasma T concentration are required for the induction of T-dependent aggressive behavior, and that isolation-induced aggressive behavior is T-independent in male layer chicks.