Improving house design

The design and presence of certain key features in houses have been shown to influence feather cover. The design of perches and the multitude of benefits offered by verandas are explained below.

hens on a perch   hens on perch

To control vent pecking avoid perches which present the vent at bird eye-level.

Think about what the hens can perch on, for example nipple lines and feed tracks and try to ensure they are over 40 cm above what is below them.

a nipple line litter under a veranda

Providing nipple drinkers has been associated with better feather cover and reduced injurious pecking.

Verandas are ideal for providing supplementary foraging materials and dustbaths.

lots of hens using a veranda the outside of a veranda

Access to verandas can be given to the hens during bad weather when access to the range is restricted. The birds can often be stressed when access to the range is prohibited because of bad weather. A veranda can reduce this stress and ease congestion in the main house.

Many scientific studies have established a reduced risk of injurious pecking with good litter and warmer temperatures in the main shed and verandas help to achieve these conditions.

Making improvements

FeatherWel - improving feather cover AssureWel - improving feather cover Defra guide

FeatherWel management guide
[pdf, 5.49mb]

AssureWel advice guide
[pdf, 661kb]

Defra feather pecking guide
[pdf, 503kb]

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