32 32 Pecking behaviour It is part of the natural behaviour of hens to demonstrate exploratory pecking of their surroundings. However undue stress can turn this natural behaviour into more aggres- sive pecking. Negative pecking behaviour once started can be difficult to control. Some studies have found evidence of this behaviour as early as four weeks old. Being aware of trigger factors can help improve the productivity of the flock and prevent the onset of injuri- ous pecking. Management Rearing and production Nutritional condition & Health status of the flock Body weight, uniformity, signs of diseases Feed consistency Ensure the composition of the ration is acceptable. Too fine can encourage selec- tive eating and a nutritional imbalance leading to pecking behaviour. Pelleted feed can also have the same effect by reducing the time spent at the pecking troughs Stocking density Overcrowding or insufficient feeders and drinkers causing anxiety in the flock Deficiencies within the ration such as protein & amino acids can have a bearing on pecking behaviour House climate Temperature, humidity, air exchange rate or pollution by dust and / or harmful gases Light intensity / Light source Excessive light intensity, flickering light (low frequency fluorescent tubes or energy-saving bulbs emitting light at a very low frequency) External factors Issues outside the house, transport, farm equipment, staff rooms Parasites Infested birds can be restless and become agitated Equipment issues Unnecessary noises, broken equipment Beak treatment The treatment must be done in accordance to the animal welfare regulations valid for the country where the chicks, pullets and layers are housed. Some examples of stresses LOHMANN TIERZUCHT › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT