Maintaining good litter quality is the single most important thing to get right during rear and lay. Good litter quality is vital for foraging behaviour and other natural behaviours such as dust bathing. Feather pecking is thought to be a redirected foraging or ground pecking behaviour. Preventing access or having poor, capped litter causes frustration for the hens and can trigger feather pecking. The link between poor litter quality and an increased risk of injurious pecking and plumage damage has been shown unanimously across studies. However, in practice it can be difficult to maintain dry and friable litter. In both the links below we describe some methods other producers use to help keep the litter in a favourable condition. It will take time to keep the litter in good condition, especially during the winter, but you will find it is well worth the effort with numerous health and welfare benefits.

Maintain litter quality during rear Maintain litter quality during lay

Maintain litter quality during rear

Maintain litter quality during lay

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]