4.7. Bird-related factors

Genetics
Age and previous experiences
Further reading
.

Genetics

Different bird strains may differ in their predisposition for feather pecking. In general, it is easier to control injurious pecking in white egg-laying strains. On the other hand, white-egg layers seem more susceptible to what has been passed on to them by their parents. White parent flocks with high levels of feather damage and high stress levels (as measured in the blood) produced offspring that was more fearful and performed more feather pecking. Brown hens, on the other hand, were more susceptible to a disrupted litter supply in early rearing. Disruption and limitation of litter supply at an early age increased severe feather pecking, feather damage and fearfulness in brown hens.
Other genetically-determined factors such as feather colour play a role as well. Some feather colours may stimulate birds to feather peck. In brown birds feather damage becomes more visible when white down is visible between the brown feathers. In white birds, white down between white feathers does not attract much attention.
taken, e.g. providing extra roughage.
.

Age and previous experiences

Birds are more susceptible to develop injurious pecking behaviour during different phases of life. This often coincides with stressful events, such as moulting, start of lay or peak performance which may also be linked to changes in energy and/or nutrient requirements (negative energy balance), and changes in hormone levels. In some cases injurious pecking may start as a reaction to sudden changes in the situation of the birds, e.g. sudden blocking of access to the range (e.g. in case of outbreaks of contagious diseases).
Parental influences may also play a role. Parent stock that has been stressed will produce offspring that is more likely to develop feather pecking. This is especially true for white birds. Brown layers are more susceptible to environmental influences such as absence of good foraging substrate/litter.

Bird-related factors
Bird-related factors

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Further reading

SPECIFIC

Scientific

GENERAL

English

FeatherWel - improving feather cover AssureWel - improving feather cover
FeatherWel management guide [pdf, 5.49mb] AssureWel advice guide [pdf, 661kb]

Nederlands

Treatment of feather pecking (in Dutch) Prevention of feather pecking (in Dutch)
Noodmaatregelen tegen pikkerij [Treatment of FP]. Van Niekerk et al. 2013 (Report, 32 pp). Van kuiken tot kip [Prevention of FP]. Van Niekerk et al.2011 (Report, 32 pp).

Dansk

Feather pecking key (in Danish)
Fjerpilningsnøgle [Feather pecking key]. Johansen, N.F. 2013 (Report, 48 pp).

 

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