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Influence of farm factors on the occurrence of feather pecking in organic reared hens and their predictability for feather pecking in the laying period

By M. Bestman, P. Koene, J. P. Wagenaar

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Abstract

Feather pecking is one of the most obvious welfare problems in laying hens. It is seen in all types of housing systems. Although banned in some countries, beak trimming is generally used to reduce the damage caused by this behaviour. In organic farming, where beak trimming is prohibited, the animals are being kept in a less intensive way than in conventional farming in order to improve their welfare. However, feather pecking is also seen in organic laying hens. Generally, rearing circumstances play an important role in the development of this behaviour. Therefore, rearing flocks were monitored for feather pecking and the relations between rearing factors and feather pecking at a young and at an adult age were analysed. Also the correlation between feather pecking during the rearing period and feather pecking during adult life was studied. Twenty-eight commercial flocks of rearing hens were monitored. These flocks split into 51 flocks of laying hens. Flocks were scored for signs of feather damage during rearing at the ages of 7, 12, and 16 weeks and on the laying farms at 30 weeks. On the rearing as well as the laying farm, data were collected on the housing system. Logistic regression was used to analyse our data. Feather damage was seen in 13 out of 24 (54

Date 2009
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 121
Issue 2
Pages 120-125
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2009.09.007
Language English
Author Address Louis Bolk Instituut, Hoofdstraat 24, 3972 LA, Driebergen, Netherlands. m.bestman@louisbolk.nl
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal housing
  3. Animal rights
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  6. Birds
  7. Chickens
  8. Ecological agriculture
  9. Egg production
  10. Farms
  11. Feathers
  12. Flocks
  13. Fowls
  14. Hens
  15. organic culture
  16. organic farming
  17. pecking
  18. peer-reviewed
  19. Plants
  20. Poultry
  21. predictions
  22. predictors
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  1. peer-reviewed