Pecking in poultry is a cannibalistic habit that causes huge loss and production distortion. It occurs in all types,breeds and ages of birds all over the world.
The usual pecking practice is picking of toes, feathers, comb and vent of birds which spreads and becomes a vicious cycle in flocks, this leads to high moralities, poor feathering, torn and damaged flesh. There are lots of factors that cause pecking and control can be costly.
The cause of pecking is usually caused one or more of the following:
Starving the birds with feed or water and inadequate provision of both usually leads to cannibalistic behaviour called pecking. The birds will device means to survive and they can continue kill themselves until they are comfortable. Feed and water should be provided at the right quantity and time for the birds, once this is lacking the birds have to compe feed and water. If the birds are always hungry they will increase pecking. Farmers must ensure that adequate feeders and drinkers should be provided to prevent competition in every flock.
- Overcrowding/Inadequate Spacing
There is standard floor space requirements for birds and breeds for all ages, therefore if this factor is not taken care of adequately there will be competition for space, air, feed and water which will result into pecking. Once there’s competition in any flock, the birds continue to kill themselves until there comfortable for the space provided.
- IMBALANCE DIETS
Pecking is one the ways birds react to either feed with low fibre content or extremely high energy, low crude protein level and micronutrients like methionine, will make them to pick feathers. Every farmer must ensure that balanced rations that will meet the nutritional requirements for the age and breeds of bird they rear. The service of animal nutritionist can be contracted if there’s need to produce feed for the birds.
- PROLAPSE PECKING
Prolapse is situation whereby the uterus stretches and tears and did not return properly into the body cavity after laying. The uterus bleeds and other birds are attracted to the blood stains and it usually occur when young flocks start laying early.
- ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS
Extreme environmental conditions like very hot or cold weather can lead to pecking and every farmer must ensure must put in place equipments that can reduce the effect of this adverse conditions if they cannot afford closed house systems.
This condition will make birds/ animals uncomfortable and this can lead to bullying or pecking. In poultry excessive heat leads to panting, pecking, paralysis, dehydration and death. There should be adequate ventilation, proper housing structure/orientation, proper spacing and good management.
- EXCESSIVE LIGHTING
Lighting requirements of birds have to be considered for choosing the optimal light source and required intensity. Light with a longer wavelength ( red to infrared ) is needed for a normal function of hypothalamus and pituitary gland while insufficient emission of light with long wavelengths obviously increased activities of layers. Under blue light activities of walking, feather pecking and aggression were higher. higher. Excessive lightning can result into an abnormal behaviour called pecking.
- Poor Management
Poor management like poor litter management, mixing different ages and sizes of birds and birds with different breeds often lead to pecking.
Every farmer needs prevent economic losses attributed to pecking in poultry as it affects profit greatly.