Project without external funding

Elaboration of minimum standards for the rearing of laying pullets on the basis of an epidemiological study with the aim of reducing feather pecking and cannibalism in laying hens in non-cage systems

Project Details
Project duration: 20042007


Feather pecking and cannibalism are still major welfare problems in laying hens kept in non-cage systems. It is known that early experience is important for their development. The aim of this study was to identify risk factors occurring during the rearing of pullets and to propose minimum standards for the rearing of laying hen pullets that lead to a reduction of feather pecking and cannibalism in laying hens. Based on literature and expert opinion, potential risk factors for feather pecking and cannibalism were identified. 50 rearing farms in Germany and Austria and 2 subsequent laying farms of each rearing farm (in total 100 laying farms) were visited. Standardized data collection with regard to potential risk factors, as well as skin and plumage condition of a random sample of 30 birds per farm was carried out. Associations between potential risk factors and skin and plumage condition were identified by regression tree analysis. The study was financially supported by the Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz.

Last updated on 2017-11-07 at 14:56