Research has shown that on exposure to low environmental temperature, neonatal chicks (Gallus gallus) show hypothermia and absence of gene transcript enhancement of putative thermogenic proteins, mitochondrial fatty acid transport, and oxidation enzymes. Various behavioral abnormalities may also decrease the thermogenic capacity of low-temperature-exposed neonatal chicks. Therefore, to investigate behavioral irregularities in low-temperature-exposed (20°C) neonatal chicks, we studied behavioral responses when compared with the control kept at thermoneutral temperature (30°C). Two-day-old chicks (n = 5) were exposed to either low or thermoneutral temperature for 3 h and were then immediately placed in an acrylic monitoring cage (40 × 30 × 20 cm). The monitoring cage was fitted with a 3-dimensional mirror (to prevent isolation-induced stress) and maintained either at 20 or 30°C. Behavioral responses were monitored for 10 min. Behavioral observations revealed that low-temperature exposure decreased distress vocalizations and spontaneous activity. Low-temperature exposure induced sleep-like behavior in neonatal chicks; active wakefulness was decreased while standing or sitting motionless with eyes closed or open and sleeping posture was significantly increased. In conclusion, there is evidence that on exposure to low-temperature, neonatal chicks decrease behavioral activity. Increased sleep-like behavior and decreased activity may reduce heat production in low-temperature-exposed neonatal chicks and could potentiate the sensitivity to cold exposure.
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