04 March 1999
His mother’s voice boosts growth

PLAYING back the recorded clucks of mother hens to newborn chicks could help to boost farm profits, scientists claim.

Researchers have found that recordings of the sounds made by mothers around feeding time increase the appetites of young farmyard animals.

In tests chicks played feeding calls grew up to 20% faster in the first three weeks. Turkey chicks respond similarly, as do piglets, who hear a sows feeding time grunts.

Sows normally suckle once an hour but the scientists managed to make the piglets demand feeding every 50 minutes, boosting their weight gain in the first few weeks of life.

The work, reported in New Scientist, had been by researchers at the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada.

  • The Times 04/03/02/99 page 11
  • The Independent 04/03/02/99 page 6 (In Brief)