Feather pecking in laying hens during rearing and laying in non-cage systems, management practices and farmers opinions

E.N. de Haas, T.B. Rodenburg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstractAcademic

Abstract

In non-cage systems, preventing feather pecking (FP) in laying hens can be challenging. We aimed to assess the risk factors of FP in relation to management practices during rearing and laying in non-cage systems. 47 rearing flocks of which 35 were followed into laying. FP behaviour (2×20 min) at five, 10 and 15 weeks of age and average feather damage (50 hens’ damage to neck, back and belly) at 40 weeks of age was recorded and related to management practices. Farmers were asked at which age they think the risk of FP is highest and if they make management adjustments to prevent FP. During rearing, disruption of litter and restricted access to litter before 4-5 weeks of age increased severe feather pecking (SFP) at five weeks of age (22±4 vs. 6±3 pecks/20 min; P=0.05). High level of feather damage levels at 40 weeks of age were correlated to high SFP at five weeks of age (r=0.45; P=0.05). Housing conditions which affect SFP at rearing can, thus, create a risk for feather damage at laying. However, these effects may be counteracted when management during laying is optimized. Flocks in which specific management to prevent FP and fearfulness was applied (radio; pecking blocks) had less feather damage at 40 weeks of age compared to flocks with standard management (0.5±0.05 vs. 0.98±0.3; P
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 48th Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE)
EditorsI. Estevez, X. Manteca, R.H. Marin, X. Averós
Place of PublicationWageningen, The Netherlands
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
Pages159
ISBN (Print)9789086862450
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event48th Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain -
Duration: 29 Jul 20142 Aug 2014

Conference

Conference48th Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
Period29/07/142/08/14

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