Injurious pecking in domestic turkeys: Development, causes, and potential solutions.

Dalton, H.A., Wood, B.J., and Torrey, S. (2013). "Injurious pecking in domestic turkeys: Development, causes, and potential solutions.", World's Poultry Science Journal, 69(4), pp. 865-876. doi : 10.1017/S004393391300086X  Access to full text

Abstract

Injurious pecking is a serious concern for commercial turkey production and welfare. The behaviour is thought to represent re-directed ground foraging, but the development and causes are poorly understood with little supporting literature. In the initial development of the behaviour, early lighting regimes and social facilitation may play contributing roles. Other factors such as the availability of foraging material, diet composition, stocking densities, and group dynamics may also affect levels of injurious pecking. Given that commercial turkeys are group-housed, alternative breeding techniques, like group selection based on social effects, might successfully reduce moralities from pecking without detracting selection pressure from economic traits. However, to better suit their behavioural needs, any genetic attempts to adapt turkeys to perform less injurious pecking should be done in combination with environmental and dietary improvements.

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