14 يناير 2020

All forms of commercial poultry can experience cannibalism as it a behavioral problem that can develop into a habit that will persist and spread within a flock as a learned behavior, even after the initial causes of the behavior have been corrected


Causes of cannibalism

  • Cannibalism is more likely to affect different types of poultry like chickens, turkeys, quail, ducks, and pheasants. The vice can occur anywhere within the living environment of your chickens. Such as cages, aviaries, floor pans and free-range systems
  • Cannibalism often starts as feather pulling or picking while the birds are only a few weeks old, or as investigative pecking at any age. These behaviors can escalate to aggressive pecking, particularly if injury occurs. Scientific study has shown that any stressor (or combination of stressors) can trigger this behavior and can lead to serious aggressive pecking and cannibalism
  • These stressors include crowding, bright light intensity, high room temperature, poor ventilation, high humidity, low salt, trace nutrient deficiency, insufficient feeding or drinking space, nervous and excitable birds (hereditary), external parasites, access to sick or injured birds, stress from moving, housing birds of different appearance together and birds prolapsing during egg-laying

Prevention and treatment of cannibalism

As cannibalism can become a learned behavior it can be difficult to treat once it has started in a flock. Therefore, prevention should be the main aim and as such, good husbandry practices should aim to minimize the stressors listed above as potential causes for cannibalism. Some strains of birds have been shown to have a higher tendency towards developing aggressive pecking behavior

The broad range of factors that can trigger cannibalism can make it very difficult for management to control all of these factors for the entire life of the flock. Bright light is a known factor that leads to cannibalism but control of lighting levels in some poultry housing systems can be very difficult, if not impossible (such as in free range systems). Where outbreaks of cannibalism have occurred in a flock, then beak trimming of the birds may be used as a control measure. Trimming of the sharp tip of the upper, and sometimes also lower beak reduces the damage that is caused by aggressive pecking

The spread of the behavior may be able to be controlled if the injured and aggressive birds can be rapidly identified and removed from the flock. Provision of escape areas may also help in floor-housed flocks. Other control methods that have been tested include the use of spectacles to prevent forward vision, bits that prevent complete closure of the beak and colored contact lenses to prevent the identification of blood on another bird

There is evidence that cannibalism may be alleviated through the use of high fiber diets. It is believed that high fiber diets enhance gut development and gizzard function, which in turn help reduce aggressive behavior in hens


Cannibalism is a genetic problem. Other chickens an imitate their mates. In as much as it is a big problem among chicken owners, this vice can be controlled and treated if you identify what is causing it. Make cannibalism control to be one of your management programs to save your flock in time



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