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Risk factors for feather pecking in organic laying hens –starting points for prevention in the housing environment


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Knierim, U.; Staack, M.; Gruber, B.; Keppler, C.; Zaludik, K. and Niebuhr, K. (2008) Risk factors for feather pecking in organic laying hens –starting points for prevention in the housing environment. Poster at: Cultivating the Future Based on Science: 2nd Conference of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research ISOFAR, Modena, Italy, June 18-20, 2008.

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Feather pecking still presents a major problem in organic laying hen farming. In order to identify important risk factors during the laying period as well as during the rearing period in an exploratory epidemiological approach, we followed birds from 23 organic rearing units in Austria and Germany to 46 laying units. Management and housing conditions were recorded during one day visits in the 16th to 18th and 30th to 40th week of age, respectively. As an indicator of feather pecking, feather conditions of random samples of 30 hens per laying farm were assessed. Average feather scores from 0 (best) to 3 (worst) were calculated. The average score of 0.73 (± 0.44) was not significantly different from the score of 0.77 (± 0.33) from 54 conventional farms assessed in the same way (p=0.247). 73 % of the total variance in feather score between the different organic farms could be explained by 6 variables. About 79 % of the explained variation was due to rearing conditions. The major risk factors for poor plumage were little elevated perch space, few drinking places and no regular scattering of grain during the rearing period, as well as poor litter quality during the laying period. It is concluded that these are feasible starting points for improved prevention strategies against feather pecking.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Poster
Keywords:poultry, laying hens, pullet rearing, feather pecking, housing
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Research affiliation: International Conferences > 2008: IFOAM OWC: Research Track / ISOFAR > 3.2 Husbandry and breeding – non ruminants
Deposited By: Knierim, Prof. Dr. Ute
ID Code:11775
Deposited On:30 Sep 2008
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:35
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted
Additional Publishing Information:This paper is published in the conference proceedings:
Neuhoff, Daniel; Halberg, Niels; Alfldi, Thomas; Lockeretz, William; Thommen, Andreas; Rasmussen, Ilse A.; Hermansen, John; Vaarst, Mette; Lck, Lorna; Carporali, Fabio; Jensen, Henning Hgh; Migliorini, Paola and Willer, Helga, Eds. (2008) .Cultivating the Future Based on Science. Proceedings of the Second Scientific Conference of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR), held at the 16th IFOAM Organic World Congress in Cooperation with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and the Consorzio ModenaBio, 18 . 20 June 2008 in Modena, Italy.. International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR), c/o IOL, DE-Bonn, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, CH-Frick. https://orgprints.org/13672 and https://orgprints.org/13674

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