Risk factors for feather pecking
Injurious pecking is affected by many factors and there is no single, prescriptive cure to prevent it from occurring. A proactive approach, using multiple management strategies has been shown to be most effective. Injurious pecking is primarily a redirected foraging behaviour and can develop when the birds do not have a balanced diet or sufficient opportunities in their surroundings to satisfy normal feeding and foraging behaviour. The development of injurious pecking seems to be enhanced in conditions where the birds have difficulty in coping with environmental stressors. Different commercial hybrids cope differently to fear and stress. Therefore the genetics of the bird can predispose them to be at a higher risk of injurious pecking.
Good stockmanship is key to preventing injurious pecking. Satisfying the birds dietary needs, stimulating appropriate feeding and foraging behaviour and managing fear and stress levels collectively offer the best approach for preventing and controlling injurious pecking on farm. Some key areas to focus on are highlighted below. Click on the links for more detail on how to implement key actions: