Last friday I went ‘piloting’ for my degree project. No, I do not mean to say I am considering a different career path 😉 I went to try out the protocol I had designed earlier this week for scoring behavioural observations. Which is usually referred to as ‘a pilot study’ or sometimes bended into the verb ‘piloting’. As I mentioned in a previous post, for many of us the degree project is the first time in our studies that we are actually taking part in an experiment. Luckily I followed the course Ethological Methods and Experimental Design last year. In this course we did several experiments trying out the different observational methods to analyse animal behaviour. This is really helping me now to figure out what type of scoring would be most useful and practical.

I met the chicks for the first time! They are about five weeks old now and very curious 🙂

You might have brilliant ideas, but it has to be feasible. Last friday I learned that doing instantaneous scan sample observations – in which you try to note down what type of activity each individual is doing in an instant – works for 10 chickens, but not for 32. Perhaps if you are well trained you might improve slightly, but each time I checked my paper afterwards I had somehow missed about.. well… a third of the birds. Ahum. So yes, it’s really great to do pilot studies and find out what works – and what doesn’t. This obviously was a bit too ambitious. However, I know that for my true observations the amount of birds will be split in half, which will make life easier. In the meantime the search for the perfect scoring protocol continues…

In one of my next posts I will explain more about the topic of my research project. Stay tuned! And of course, like always, please feel free to ask questions.


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