The detachment process of the domestic chick from its mother, or any other imprinting object occurs between the sixth and tenth week after hatching. The present study (Experiment I), examines whether the detachment process parallels endocrine events that precede prepuberty. Immediately upon hatching, groups of heavy strain chicks were imprinted to a colored foam rubber ball for 72 hours. The bond between these chicks and the imprinting object was then tested, and plasma LH and testosterone were assayed once a week until the chicks were 10 weeks of age; the sexual development of chicks of the same strain was studied at the same time. At the outset of the detachment period (5-7 weeks) an increase in plasma testosterone and a decrease in plasma LH was found. In addition, the comb and testes showed a definite weight increase while the bursa of Fabricius showed a significant decline in weight. In Experiment II, the beginning of the detachment process was induced by injecting 3 to 4 week old chicks with testosterone-propionate, estradiol-benzoate and 5α-dihydrotestosterone. Our evidence therefore appears to demonstrate that testosterone and its metabolites induce the detachment process by the same mechanism used to stimulate sexual behavior in juvenile chicks.
- Filial following response
- Plasma LH