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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 December 2013

C.J. NICOL*
Affiliation:
Animal Welfare & Behaviour Group, School of Veterinary Sciences, Bristol University, Langford House, Langford, Bristol, BS40 5DU, United Kingdom
M. BESTMAN
Affiliation:
Louis Bolk Institute, Hoofdstraat 24, 3972 LA Driebergen, The Netherlands
A-M. GILANI
Affiliation:
Animal Welfare & Behaviour Group, School of Veterinary Sciences, Bristol University, Langford House, Langford, Bristol, BS40 5DU, United Kingdom
E.N. DE HAAS
Affiliation:
Adaptation Physiology Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands
I.C. DE JONG
Affiliation:
Livestock Research, Wageningen UR, PO Box 65, 8200 AB, Lelystad, The Netherlands
S. LAMBTON
Affiliation:
Animal Welfare & Behaviour Group, School of Veterinary Sciences, Bristol University, Langford House, Langford, Bristol, BS40 5DU, United Kingdom
J.P. WAGENAAR
Affiliation:
Louis Bolk Institute, Hoofdstraat 24, 3972 LA Driebergen, The Netherlands
C.A. WEEKS
Affiliation:
Animal Welfare & Behaviour Group, School of Veterinary Sciences, Bristol University, Langford House, Langford, Bristol, BS40 5DU, United Kingdom
T.B. RODENBURG
Affiliation:
Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, Wageningen University, PO Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands Behavioural Ecology Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands
*
Corresponding author: c.j.nicol@bris.ac.uk
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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.

Type
Review Article
Copyright
Copyright © World's Poultry Science Association 2013 

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