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62477.  Wed Mar 29, 2006 9:30 am Reply with quote

Which animals are stimulated by the colour red?

a) Bulls
b) Chickens
c) Rats
d) Guide Dogs

The myth that bulls are irritated by the colour red has been perpetuated since at least 1580, when writer John Lyly noted that: 'He that commeth before an Elephant will not wear bright colors, nor he that commeth to a Bul red.’ ('Euphues and His England’).

The fact is that like rats, bulls are colour-blind. It is the bullfighters themselves who cause the bull to charge; the red colour of their cape is merely a tradition. Dogs, meanwhile, can distinguish between blue and yellow shades, but not red. (At traffic lights, guide dogs and their owners will listen to traffic to determine whether it is safe or not to cross.)

The answer in this case is (b), chickens.

Poultry farmers know too well about the practical problems of the bird’s perception of red. When one chicken bleeds, the other birds ‘see red’ and peck the hapless chicken to death. This cannibalistic behaviour has been estimated to lose farmers up to a quarter of their flock.

To combat cannibalism, poultry farmers have traditionally trimmed the chickens’ beaks, however one American entrepreneur has created a quite interesting solution to the problem.

Randy Wise, from Wellesley, Massachusetts, set up a company called Animalens to make and market red-tinted contact lenses for egg-laying chickens. He believes that chickens that wear red contact lenses (available for 20 cents a pair) behave differently: they eat less, lay more eggs and, most importantly, don't fight as much.
"Since the red lenses absorb all colors but red," says Wise, "the chickens can't distinguish blood, because everything looks red. If the chickens don't see blood, they don't peck.’

158377.  Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:04 pm Reply with quote

This study showed that red contact lenses made no difference to chicken egg-laying and worse made the chickens chronically ill.


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