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. Lampton, J.P. Wagenaar, C.A. Weeks, T.B. Rodenburg

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86 Citations (Scopus)


Studies on the prevalence of feather pecking in different commercial laying hen 23 systems and its welfare and economic impacts are reviewed in the following paper. 24 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. Keywords: laying hen; feather pecking; beak-trimming; light; risk factor; genetic selection
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-788
JournalWorlds Poultry Science Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • 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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