Egg-laying chooks: my suggestion

To: "Chris Davey" <>
Subject: Egg-laying chooks: my suggestion
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2008 17:30:42 +1100
Hi Chris,
Easy to make suggestions on that one, not so easy to prove. Because it hurts. / Because their mother did. / Because they are surprised. /
However and it seems terribly obvious to me, I suspect that the real reason is to tell people. Assuming that wild type chooks don't do this (or most don't but I don't actually know). Surely this would be a feature that has been selectively bred for over the centuries (either deliberately or as suggested below) in the domestication process or maybe as a feature linked to something else that we have selected for.
My suggested mechanism is that chickens that advertised that they have laid an egg were seen as more valuable to the farmer and more likely to be kept alive by the people who controlled them, for future egg production and thus the genes that produce that behaviour increase in the population. Whereas (regardless of how many eggs they actually lay), the chickens that did not advertise that they have laid an egg were more likely to be the ones not seen as valuable and were eaten quicker rather than kept for future egg production and thus not get the opportunity to lay so many eggs. Simple. Indeed chickens kept in a pen with others, if they made more noise and laid less eggs, they may even be more likely to survive and pass on their genes to the next generation than those that may have laid more eggs but not told the farmer that they had done so. This is no different to that the pigs that developed a more porky physique were selected for, not because it is good for the pig, it is good for us.
As with most things in evolution, this behaviour is not there for a purpose, it is a feature that simply finds itself in a function and therefore gets to be incorporated in the species characteristics, after the event.
By the way: A chicken is an egg's method for making more eggs.
As far as I know they make the noise after laying.
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