XIVth European Poultry Conference. 23rd -27th June, 2014, Stavanger, Norway. Can a bespoke management package reduce the risk of injurious pecking occurring in flocks of intact-beaked laying hens? Lambton, SL et al.

Injurious pecking (IP) in laying hens remains a welfare and economic problem. Birds are often beak trimmed, although the extent to which this reduces the prevalence or impact of IP is not fully documented. Alongside other European countries, the UK is considering a ban on beak trimming. To inform this decision 20 commercial flocks of intact-beak birds were recruited for a study designed to establish whether such flocks could be kept with good welfare outcomes. Flock sizes ranged from 1200-16000 birds, and the majority of farmers had not previously kept intact-beaked birds before. Bespoke management plans were provided to both rearing and laying farmers, designed to reduce the risk of IP, including, but not limited to: strategies which improve litter quality and range use and enrichments to stimulate exploratory and foraging pecking inside and outside the house. Flocks were visited during the rearing period, at 8 weeks, and again during lay at 20, 40 and 65 weeks. Data collected include behavioural observations and plumage assessments, and production and mortality data for the study flock and for as many preceding flocks in the same house for which data were available. Acceptable limits for plumage damage and mortality were assigned prior to the start of the study. We will present early data on the ability of farmers using these management strategies to manage intact-beaked flocks. 

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