Early access to the range

Allow the hens access to the range area as early as practical, considering weather conditions. Early access is associated with greater range use later in the laying cycle and the more hens you can get using the range the lower the risk of injurious pecking. 

hens on restricted range hens on grass

Even giving the pullets access to a restricted area on the range to start with will help get the birds used to going outside and encourage them to range more when given access to the full range.

By promoting range use you are reducing the effective stocking density inside the house, increasing fibre in their diet and promoting positive foraging behaviour, all of which is associated with a reduced risk of injurious pecking.

 hens on litter  young pullets on the range

If eggs laid outside are a concern, then access to the range can be given just in the afternoon outside of the laying period. Full access can then be given once the hens have learnt to use the nest boxes.

Giving hens early access to the range is even more important if they have had access to a range during rear.

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]