The prevention and control of feather pecking: application to commercial systems

C. J. Nicol*, M. Bestman, A-M. Gilani, E. N. De Haas, I. C. De Jong, S. Lambton, J. P. Wagenaar, C. A. Weeks, T. B. Rodenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Studies on the prevalence of feather pecking in different commercial laying hen systems and its welfare and economic impacts are reviewed in the following paper. Current methods for controlling feather pecking include beak-trimming and alterations to light regimes, but these methods have significant disadvantages from the perspective of bird welfare. A substantial body of research has now identified risk factors for feather pecking during both the rearing and laying periods. It is argued that these findings can be translated into optimised management practices that can prevent and control feather pecking whilst simultaneously conferring welfare benefits. The genetic basis of feather pecking is considered, and studies that suggest group selection techniques could produce birds with a reduced tendency to feather peck in commercial flocks are highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-788
Number of pages14
JournalWorld's Poultry Science Journal
Volume69
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

Keywords

  • laying hen
  • feather pecking
  • beak-trimming
  • light
  • risk factor
  • genetic selection
  • HOUSED LAYING HENS
  • GALLUS-GALLUS-DOMESTICUS
  • HOUSING SYSTEMS
  • RISK-FACTORS
  • ALTERNATIVE SYSTEMS
  • STOCKING DENSITY
  • FLOCK SIZE
  • FURNISHED CAGES
  • LIGHT-INTENSITY
  • REARING FACTORS

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