Examining the relationship between different naturally-occurring maxillary beak shapes and their ability to cause damage in commercial laying hens

S Struthers, I C Dunn, J J Schoenebeck, V Sandilands

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

1. Using chicken models to avoid unnecessary harm, this study examined the relationship between naturally-occurring maxillary (top) beak shapes and their ability to cause pecking damage.2. A selection of 24 Lohmann Brown laying hens from a total population of 100 were sorted into two groups based on their maxillary beak shape, where 12 were classified as having sharp beaks (SB) and 12 as having blunt beaks (BB).3. All hens were recorded six times in a test pen which contained a chicken model (foam block covered with feathered chicken skin) and a video camera. During each test session, the number of feathers removed from the model, the change in skin and block weight (proxies for tissue damage) and the percentage of successful pecks (resulting in feather and/or tissue removal) were recorded.4. SB hens removed more feathers from the model and had a greater change in skin weight than BB hens. The mean number of pecks made at the model did not differ between the beak shape groups; however, SB hens had a greater percentage of successful pecks, resulting in feather and/or tissue removal, compared to BB hens.5. In conclusion, SB hens were more capable of removing feathers and causing damage. Birds performed more successful pecks resulting in feather and/or tissue removal as they gained experience pecking at the model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-110
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Poultry Science
Volume65
Issue number2
Early online date9 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 British Poultry Science Ltd.

Keywords

  • Morphology
  • cannibalism
  • egg production
  • severe feather pecking
  • welfare
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Animal Husbandry/methods
  • Feathers
  • Beak
  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Female

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