An experiment was conducted with 504 non-cage-housed ISA Brown laying hens from 18 to 40 wk of age to investigate the separate effects of dietary energy concentration, nonstarch polysaccharide (NSP) concentration, and particle sizes of added NSP source on the eating behavior, feather-pecking behavior, and hen performance of laying hens. Hens were allotted to 1 of 6 dietary treatments according to a 2 x 3 factorial arrangement, with 7 replicates per treatment. The factors were control and low energy concentration (2,825 vs. 2,540 kcal/kg), control and high NSP concentration (133 vs. 195 g/kg), and fine vs. coarse particle size of the added NSP source in the high-NSP diets. We hypothesized that eating time would be increased by feeding low-energy diets or coarsely ground, high-NSP diets, or both, resulting in reduced feather-pecking behavior, without negatively affecting hen performance. Energy reduction, NSP addition, and coarse grinding of NSP increased eating time by 14.2% (P = 0.001), 17.2% (P <0.001), and 7.9% (P = 0.075), respectively, compared with the control level of these factors. Addition of NSP decreased eating rate (g/min) by 21.0% (P = 0.010). Layers already performed gentle feather-pecking behavior during the fifth week of the rearing period. Dietary treatments did not affect the maximal level of feather condition scores, but arise of feather damage was delayed by 10 wk in hens fed low-energy, coarsely ground, NSP-rich diets compared with hens fed control diets. Hens fed the control NSP diets showed reduced culling rates, because of less cannibalistic pecking, when energy concentration was decreased (44.1 vs. 13.1%), whereas in the high-NSP diets, culling rate decreased slightly when hens were fed the low-energy diets (31.6 vs. 28.6%; P = 0.071). Hens that were fed the low-energy diets compensated for the 10% reduction in energy concentration by a 9.3% higher maximal feed intake (143.0 vs. 130.8 g/d). Hen performance and BW gain of the hens were not affected by dietary treatments. We concluded that hens that were fed low-energy or high (coarsely ground)-NSP diets spend more time on feed intake, compared with hens that were fed the control diets. As a result, hens in some treatments showed less feather-pecking behavior.
van Krimpen, M. M., Kwakkel, R. P., van der Peet-Schwering, C. M. C., den Hartog, L. A., & Verstegen, M. W. A. (2008). Low Dietary Energy Concentration, High Nonstarch Polysaccharide Concentration, and Coarse Particle Sizes of Nonstarch Polysaccharides Affect the Behavior of Feather-Pecking-Prone Laying Hens. Poultry Science, 87, 485-496. https://doi.org/10.3382/ps.2007-00279