As applied ethologists we have come to appreciate that the question “what do you do” comes in two flavors. The first, the more formal one, emphasizes the ‘what‘, as in “what topics do you study at the Makagon Lab?” The second, action-based one, emphasizes the ‘do‘: “what do you actually do on a daily or weekly basis?”  As we cannot be sure which of these two inquiries led you to this page we provide a brief answer to each.

What  do we do?

We study the behavior, welfare and management of poultry, primarily laying hens, broiler chickens, and ducks. Our research centers around two main themes: A) determining the impacts that housing and social environments have on the behavior and physiology of poultry and B) developing and validating practical, species-specific welfare assessment measures.  A unifying goal of our work is to develop practical strategies to help minimize behavior-related poultry management issues while optimizing bird welfare. Some examples of topics that we have recently worked on are provided at the bottom of this page. A list of our published research, along with full citations, can be found in Dr. Makagon’s Google Scholar Profile

What  do we do?

No two days in the life of a researcher are the same. We divide our research time between project planning and design (in the lab), data collection (in a barn), video and sample analysis (back in the lab), and data management, analysis and write up (also in the lab). Allison Pullin, who completed her PhD in our lab, wrote a Blog about her first research experience in the lab. It provides a window into a day in the life of a researcher and what it is that we do.  The project described in Allison’s Blog is now complete! Click here to learn what we found.

Recent areas of study 

  • Development of keel bone fractures in laying hens
  • Reproductive behaviors of ducks
  • Environmental enrichment for broiler chickens: impacts on behavior, leg health, and breast muscle development
  • Validation of behavioral sampling strategies and automated behavioral data collection approaches
  • Housing and management of ducks in backyard, and small to large scale production settings
  • Duck welfare assessment