Reducing fear and stress

The way in which the birds are managed during the rearing and laying phase in an essential part of achieving a flock which is more resilient to stress. There are a number of approaches which can be taken to develop this.

Try to avoid subjecting the birds to multiple stressors at the same time. Some stressors are unavoidable, but for those you can control, try and stagger them. For example during rear, avoid changing a diet while vaccinating. 

two people walking the house
a producer walking the hens

Get the hens used to low-level disturbances and noise. Playing the radio in the shed allows the hens to become more accustomed to varied sounds. The radio can be played intermittently and its position in the house changed from time to time to help get the birds used to change.

Regularly walking the birds, having a variety of people walking them, varying the routes taken through the house and varying the clothes worn when walking them can all help create a more robust flock.

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]