The use of pecking blocks as foraging enrichment for improvement of feather condition in enriched colonies

Lead Applicant: Tina Widowski

Research Priority: Animal Health & Welfare Projects

Program Type: Tier 1

Funding Cycle: 2022/2023

Research Centre: Ontario Poultry Research Centre at the Arkell Research Station

Research Summary: Feather pecking (FP) in laying hens is a common problem. Management factors associated with reduced risk of FP include scratch mats in enriched colonies (where hens are housed in small group settings with amenities) and edible enrichments, such as pecking blocks (PB), in non-cage systems. There is a shortage of comparative and detailed studies on the impact of PB on FP in enriched colonies and a need for practical foraging resources in enriched colonies. This research will address the need for foraging resources and evaluate the impact of PB as a tool to mitigate FP in enriched colonies.