Comparisons of damaging feather pecking and time budgets in male and female turkeys of a traditional breed and a genetically selected male line

R M Busayi, C E Channing, P M Hocking

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Feather and skin pecking leading to feather loss and tissue damage is a welfare problern in commercial turkeys. A factorial experiment was designed to compare a line of unselecled turkeys that previously did not exhibit this behaviour with a genetically selected male line with a propensity for damaging pecking. We also compared the time budgets of male and female turkeys from the two lines at 3, 6 and 9 weeks of age and at different times of the day. Damaging feather pecking occurred in 32% of male and 15% of female male line turkeys but was not observed in the traditional line. Time budgets of males and females were similar. Preening increased and resting, feeding and general pecking declined with age. Resting was higher in the afternoon than in the morning and male line turkeys were observed resting more often than traditional turkeys at 3 and 6 weeks. Traditional turkeys displayed more gentle feather pecks than male line poults at 9 weeks. Male turkeys of both lines showed more strong feather pecks and pulls at 3 weeks whereas female turkeys showed 1-more at 9 weeks of age. The frequency of strong feather Pulls recorded electronically increased with age but was not related to Mortality. It is Suggested that damaging feather pecking in turkeys may be the result of vigorous investigative pecking. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-292
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume96
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006

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