Effects of litter provision during early rearing and environmental enrichment during the production phase on feather pecking and feather damage in laying hens

F.M. Tahamtani, M. Brantsæter, J. Nordgreen, E. Sandberg, T.B. Hansen, A. Nødtvedt, Bas Rodenburg, R.O. Moe, A.M. Janczak

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15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Feather pecking is a multi-factorial behavioral disorder and a serious welfare issue in the poultry industry. Several studies report early life experience with litter to be a major determinant in the development of feather pecking. The current study aimed to test the large-scale on-farm efficiency of a simple and cheap husbandry procedure applied during the rearing period with the ultimate goal of reducing the incidence of feather pecking and plumage damage during the production stage in laying hens. Five laying hen-rearing farmers from across Norway participated in the study. These farmers were asked to create divisions within their hen rearing houses and to separate their chicks into 2 groups: one reared with access to a paper substrate from the first d of age, the other a control group without access to paper substrate during rearing. All flocks were visited at the production farms at 30 wk of age and observed for pecking behavior and feather damage. Birds in the control group had higher odds of having more feather damage compared to the birds from the treatment group. In addition, flocks provided with environmental enrichment at the production farms had a reduced incidence of feather pecking, irrespective of the treatment. These results indicate that husbandry procedures during both rearing and production stages have the potential to alleviate feather pecking and increase laying hen welfare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2747-2756
JournalPoultry Science
Volume95
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • feather damage
  • feather pecking
  • laying hen
  • litter
  • welfare

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    Tahamtani, F. M., Brantsæter, M., Nordgreen, J., Sandberg, E., Hansen, T. B., Nødtvedt, A., Rodenburg, B., Moe, R. O., & Janczak, A. M. (2016). Effects of litter provision during early rearing and environmental enrichment during the production phase on feather pecking and feather damage in laying hens. Poultry Science, 95(12), 2747-2756. https://doi.org/10.3382/ps/pew265