Feather-pecking response of laying hens to feather and cellulose-based rations fed during rearing.

Kriegseis, I.; Bessei, W.; Meyer, B.; Zentek, J.; Würbel, Hanno; Harlander-Matauschek, Alexandra (2012). Feather-pecking response of laying hens to feather and cellulose-based rations fed during rearing. Poultry Science, 91(7), pp. 1514-1521. Oxford University Press 10.3382/ps.2011-01865

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Recent studies in laying hens have shown that feather peckers eat more feathers than nonpeckers. We hypothesized that food pellets containing feathers would decrease the birds' appetite for feathers and thereby also decrease feather pecking. To separate the effect of feathers from that of insoluble fiber per se, additional control groups were fed pellets containing similar amounts of cellulose. Sixty (experiment 1) and 180 (experiment 2) 1-d-old Lohmann-Selected Leghorn birds were divided into 12 groups of 5 (experiment 1) and 15 (experiment 2) birds, respectively, and kept on slatted floors. During the rearing period, 4 groups each had ad libitum access to either a commercial pelleted diet, a pelleted diet containing 5% (experiment 1) or 10% (experiment 2) of chopped feathers, respectively, or a pelleted diet containing 5% (experiment 1) or 10% (experiment 2) of cellulose, respectively. In the consecutive laying period, all groups received a commercial pelleted diet. In experiment 1, feather pecking was recorded weekly from wk 5 to wk 16. In the laying period, observations were made in wk 18, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, and 30. In experiment 2, feather pecking was recorded weekly from wk 5 to 11, in wk 16 to wk 18, and in wk 20 and 21. At the end of the rearing period, plumage condition per individual hen was scored. Scores from 1 (denuded) to 4 (intact) were given for each of 6 body parts. The addition of 10% of feathers to the diet reduced the number of severe feather-pecking bouts (P < 0.0129) and improved plumage condition of the back area (P < 0.001) significantly compared with control diets. The relationship between feather pecking/eating and the gastrointestinal consequences thereof, which alter feather pecking-behavior, are unclear. Understanding this relationship might be crucial for understanding the causation of feather pecking in laying hens.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Public Health Institute
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Public Health Institute > Animal Welfare Division

UniBE Contributor:

Würbel, Hanno and Harlander, Alexandra

ISSN:

0032-5791

Publisher:

Oxford University Press

Language:

English

Submitter:

Andrea Stettler

Date Deposited:

17 Jul 2014 13:39

Last Modified:

22 Oct 2019 19:36

Publisher DOI:

10.3382/ps.2011-01865

PubMed ID:

22700494

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.54750

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/54750

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