Damaging behaviour in poultry
Injurious pecking is a collective term used to describe feather pecking, vent pecking and cannibalism. Varying from mild to extremely severe, it is a significant welfare and economic problem, and is the leading cause of mortality in free-range systems. Risk factors are numerous, including genetics, rearing conditions, diet and housing. Injurious pecks are usually directed at the body of another bird. In contrast, aggressive pecking has a different underlying motivation and pecks are usually directed at the head or neck of another bird. Aggressive pecking is used to establish and maintain social relationships between birds, but can be a problem in housing systems where there is competition for resources.