Cannibalism, Severe Feather Pecking ...

Cannibalism, Severe Feather Pecking in Laying Hens

Cannibalism, Severe Feather Pecking in Laying Hens

Happenings / Clinical Signs

Feather pecking is a behaviour expressed by dominant birds at subordinates. Feather pecking may vary from pecking to plucking the feathers of subordinate birds.

Birds with damaged feathers have poor thermoregulation and greater energy demands than unaffected birds. The egg production usually drops in affected laying birds.

Cannibalism involves ingestion of part of other conspecifics, including skin, tissues and organs

Visibly sick birds

  • Few visibly sick birds
  • Feathers may be severe damaged
  • Open wound in the skin
  • Appearance of blood on the exposed skin
  • Skin and feathers Hemorrhages

Flock behaviour

  • If the feathers are severely damaged, hemorrhages may occur, which attracts even more pecking.
  • Appearance of blood on the exposed skin may lead to death of the bird due to cannibalism behaviour from others birds in the flock or the bird has to be culled due to severity of the injuries

Mortality

  • Low mortality or increases gradually
  • The mortality rate depends on the number of affected birds
  • Injuries are frequently of such severity that death occurs
  • Appearance of blood on the exposed skin may lead to death of the bird due to cannibalism behaviour from others birds in the flock or the bird has to be culled due to severity of the injuries

Egg Drop

  • Egg production drop gradually
  • Birds with damaged feathers have poor thermoregulation and greater energy demands than unaffected birds

Feathers

  • Poor feather condition
  • Poor feather cover or feather loss
  • Feather pulling
  • Feather pecking
  • Feather eating
  • If the feathers are severely damaged, haemorrhage may occur

Body Parts (Neck wings breast abdomen shanks legs hocks feet joints vent skin)

  • Appearance of blood on the exposed skin
  • Open wound in the skin
  • Skin and feathers Hemorrhages

 

 

Feather pecking is a behaviour expressed by dominant birds at subordinates. Feather pecking may vary from pecking to plucking the feathers of subordinate birds.

Birds with damaged feathers have poor thermoregulation and greater energy demands than unaffected birds. The egg production usually drops in affected laying birds .

If feathers or tissue are severely damaged, hemorrhage may occur, which then attracts even more pecking. Appearance of blood on exposed skin may lead to the death of the bird due to cannibalistic behaviour from the other birds in the flock or the bird has to be culled due to the severity of the injuries.

Cannibalistic attacks are usually made by groups of hens on one individual; pecks are usually delivered from behind or from the side of the victim and are delivered in a foraging posture with head and neck lowered.

Causing Agents
A complex multi-factorial behavioural problem. Predisposing factors include overcrowding, excessive light intensity or variation in environment (e.g. through shafts of light in the house or shed, high temperature, nutritional deficiencies, feed form, boredom, and strain of bird). 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. The higher level does not prevent pecking completely but it reduce the susceptibility of the flock to developing the vice, which is usually triggered by management factors.
Affected Systems/Organs
Integumentary system. Feathers. Skin
Spread
N/A
Mainly Affects
Liveability, Performance and Egg production may affected
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

1

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.

Donald D. Bell, Williams D. Weaver. 2009.  Commercial Chicken Meat and Egg Production. Fifth Edition.

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