5. Treatment

This post includes the following sections:
Prevention
Measures
Treating affected birds
Further reading
.

Prevention

Injurious pecking can be prevented by ensuring:

  • optimal design of the henhouse
  • optimal furnishing of the range
  • all measures that reduce fear and stress in the flock (both external as internal/genetic)
  • all measures that improve bird health

Prevention of injurious pecking is always a matter of keeping the flock in balance. Depending on the housing system, the character of the flock, the farmer and the henhouse some measures will be more feasible than others. There is no standard formula for prevention of feather pecking. All factors mentioned under ‘Risk factors’ should be evaluated and optimized.

Measures

Reducing light intensity and/or switching to red light is a measure often taken when feather pecking occurs. Under red light, wounds do not contrast as much with brown feathers and thus attract less attention. This could help to reduce cannibalism. However, under dimmed lighting birds often become more fearful, which may counteract attempts to prevent feather pecking.
Whenever it is expected that birds are more likely to develop injurious pecking extra measures should be taken, e.g. providing extra roughage.

Treating affected birds

Affected birds can be treated with a violet spray to prevent further pecking of the affected area. They may also be kept in quarantine (separate pens) until the wounds have healed. Badly affected birds should be culled to prevent further suffering.

Wound spraying
Wound spraying

.

Further reading

SPECIFIC

Scientific

Nederlands

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).