Cannibalism, Aggressive Pecking Dir ...

Cannibalism, Aggressive Pecking Direct at the Head in Laying Hens

Cannibalism, Aggressive Pecking Direct at the Head in Laying Hens

Aggressive pecking is distinct from feather pecking and cannibalism in form and underlying motivation. Aggressive pecking is always aimed at the head, with the aggressor in an upright posture with the two birds facing at each other and it is thought to be a way of establishing social order. (1, 2, 3)

 Cannibalism has been reported in all production systems but outbreaks are often more severe in large flocks of free-range or aviary birds (1, 2, 3)

Many factors may be involved in the development of these complex pecking behaviour patterns, including colony size, stocking density, nutrition, and lighting regimen. (3)

As the crude protein level of the diet is reduced, regardless of amino acid supply, there is also an increase in mortality (cannibalism) and reduced feather score. The feathering of white and especially brown eggs birds is adversely affected by low protein diets (lower score). (5)

Observed Clinical Signs Happenings

Visibly sick birds

  • Few visibly sick birds
  • An open wound on the head
  • Combs and wattles are also a targets
  • The victim has a foraging posture with the head and neck lowered

Flock behaviour

  • Increase flock mobility or activity
  • Cannibalism attacks are usually made by groups of hens, on one individual
  • Mediterranean class hen’s strains have been much more prone to cannibalism pecking than the heavier breeds of American and Asiatic classes.
  • Today, cannibalism is more common in the modern brown hybrids than the white layer lines
  • Feather pecking and cannibalism tend to reoccur and it is suggested that it may be a learned behaviour

 

Mortality

  • Low mortality or increases gradually
  • The mortality rate depends on the number of affected birds

Dead birds

  • Good bodily condition (“full crop”) or Poor bodily  condition (“Skinny body”)

Head Comb Wattles Face Nostrils Sinuses Mount Beak Earlobes

  • An open wound on the head
  • The appearance of blood on the exposed skin
  • Combs and wattles are also a targets
  • The victim has a foraging posture with the head and neck lowered

Diet or Feed Changes (Recent Feed delivery, Recent formulation /diet, Other silo or improper storage, another feed brand).

Many factors may be involved in the development of these complex pecking behaviour patterns, including colony size, stocking density, nutrition, and lighting regimen. (3)

Diet (nutritional deficiencies)  or  feed form are one of the complex  multifactorial behavioural  predisposing factors

Cannibalism, Aggressive Pecking Direct at the Head in Laying Hens DOES NOT show, exhibit or manifest any of the following clinical signs happenings:

  1. Egg drop
  2. High mortality or increases rapidly
  3. Many visibly sick birds
  4. Droppings abnormalities
  5. Respiratory abnormalities
  6. Neurological Nervous
  7. Lameness or unusual movements, incoordination, ataxia
  8. Eyes abnormalities
  9. Body Parts (Neck, wings, breast, abdomen, shanks, legs, hocks, feet, joints, vent, and skin, abnormalities), skinny body, retarded growth, weight depression
  10. Feathers abnormalities
  11. Feed Consumption Changes
  12. Feed Consumption Pattern
  13. Feed intake increased
  14. Feed intake reduced or refusal
  15. Shell quality defects
  16. Internal Egg defects
Causing Agents
Many factors may be involved in the development of these complex pecking behaviour patterns, including colony size, stocking density, nutrition and light regimen
Affected Systems/Organs
Integumentary system. Head. Skin
Spread
N/A
Mainly Affects
Liveability
Solution
Adequate husbandry. Rule out the factors such as: colony size, stocking density, nutrition and light regimen. In free-range and barn laying flocks, where pecking can be more of a problem, it is standard practice to use 0.18-0.20% sodium in the ration while for cage birds .014% is adequate.
Suggested Actions
  • Can be confirmed with clinical signs and gross lesions
  • Can be dealt with in house
  • Technical assistance recommended
  • Can be managed with feed additives, off-the-shelf medications

Impact on Egg quality

0

Impact on Liveability

1


Impact on Production

0

Overall Economic Impact

1



Y.M. Saif.2008.Disease of Poultry. 12th Edition. page 1149

David E. Swayne. 2013. Diseases of Poultry 13th Edition. page 1233

Mark Pattison, Paul F. McMullin, Janet M. Bradbury. Dennis J. Alexander. 2008. Poultry Diseases. 6th Edition. page 97 , 545

Steven Leeson, John D. Summers. 2008. Commercial Poultry Nutrition. Third Edition. page 173

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