A bespoke management package can reduce levels of injurious pecking in loose-housed laying hen flocks.

Sarah L Lambton, Christine J Nicol, Mary Friel, David C J Main, Justin L McKinstry, Christopher M Sherwin, Jon Walton, Claire A Weeks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study investigated the protective effects of an on-farm management package designed to reduce injurious pecking (IP) in loose-housed laying hens. A systematic review of scientific literature generated 46 potentially protective management strategies. Bespoke management packages were designed for treatment flocks (TF) using these management strategies. IP in 53 TFs was compared with IP in 47 control flocks (CF) where the management package was not employed. Scoring of plumage damage (PD) and observations of gentle and severe feather pecking (GFP; SFP), and vent and cannibalistic pecking (VP) were completed, and management strategy use was recorded, at 20, 30 and 40 weeks of age. Differences between treatment and CF were examined using multilevel modelling. Compared with CF, TF employed more management strategies (P<0.001), had lower PD (P=0.003) and SFP (P=0.019). Regardless of treatment or control flock status, the more of the 46 management strategies that were employed the lower was the PD (P=0.004), GFP (P=0.021), SFP (P=0.043), mortality at 40 weeks (P=0.025), and the likelihood of VP (P=0.021). Therefore, the provision of a bespoke management package was protective against the majority of forms of IP in commercial laying hen flocks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-+
Number of pages7
JournalVeterinary Record
Volume172
Issue number16
Early online date23 Feb 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2013

Keywords

  • FEATHER PECKING
  • COMMERCIAL FLOCKS
  • STOCKING DENSITY
  • CANNIBALISTIC BEHAVIOR
  • ALTERNATIVE SYSTEMS
  • PLUMAGE CONDITION
  • GROUND PECKING
  • RISK-FACTORS
  • GROUP-SIZE
  • FREE-RANGE
  • plumage damage
  • mortality laying hens
  • management

Cite this

Lambton, S. L., Nicol, C. J., Friel, M., Main, D. C. J., McKinstry, J. L., Sherwin, C. M., Walton, J., & Weeks, C. A. (2013). A bespoke management package can reduce levels of injurious pecking in loose-housed laying hen flocks. Veterinary Record, 172(16), 423-+. https://doi.org/10.1136/vr.101067