Maintaining litter quality during rear

Litter quality is especially important during rear as it is often the only foraging material (apart from feed) available to the chicks. Abnormal behaviours such as injurious pecking are likely to occur because normal behaviours cannot be performed, or are not learnt properly. One of the most influential of these behaviours is ground pecking where chicks learn from mother hen to peck at the ground and to forage for food. With the lack of a mother hen and litter which may not be very stimulating, this foraging behaviour may not develop properly. The effects of abnormal behaviours learnt at rear are often experienced at lay even though they may go unnoticed during rear. It is therefore important to tackle this problem during the rearing phase. Be proactive to keep the litter in good condition and identify the causes of poor litter quality and eliminate them.

chick on litter   leaking nipple drinkers

Regularly check the litter quality during rear and ensure that it is kept dry and friable throughout the entire rearing period. Wet patches should be removed and replaced with fresh, dry litter.

Leaking drinkers, poor ventilation and structural problems in the rearing house are just a few examples of the sources of wet litter which can occur during rearing period. These should be promptly tackled and measures should be put in place to help prevent the problem occurring again. 

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]