through the looking glass(es): livestock safety tips

05/21/2018

It’s is no secret that the demand for poultry is on the rise. With livestock farmers focusing on rapid production to keep pace, it may seem logical to house flocks in common spaces to boost productivity.

However, the aggressive nature of chickens toward one another could cause more harm than good. If farmers fail to provide their livestock with the proper care and attention, they run the risk of losing a sizable portion of their stock.

That’s why they’re turning to alternative methods to keep profits high and to ensure animal safety. With better management practices, farmers can guarantee animal well-being, while saving time and money.

*Guidelines to dress your chicken for Halloween?

Poor Management Leads to Cannibalism and Higher Mortality

Overcrowding, overheating, excessive light and malnutrition can create a hostile environment, which can lead to feather pecking or cannibalism among chicken livestock.

  • Your housing accommodations should include:
    • Adequate floor and perch space
    • Appropriate lighting schedules
    • A well-balanced diet and access to water
    • Birds of like colors, ages, breeds and sizes
  • Cannibalism can arise from feather pecking, which occurs when a bird pecks or pulls at the feathers of another as means of intimidation.
    • Feather pecking is more common in commercial barns and among birds housed in large free-range systems.
  • Cannibalism among livestock is both an inherent and learned behavior.
    • When one bird begins to attack another, others are likely to follow suit.
    • This behavior leads to an increase in mortality rate.
  • To avoid loss and ensure animal safety, farmers turn to solutions like beak trimming and chicken glasses.

Case Study: Chicken Glasses Provide Beak Trimming Alternative

  • As a substitute for the grueling de-beaking process, farmers developed chicken eyeglasses to stop flocks from attacking one another.
  • Patented in 1903, these glasses prevent chickens from pecking at each other’s eyes, feathers and skin.
    • Farmers use cotter pins to keep the aluminum glasses in place.
  • Glasses are rose-tinted to disguise the color of blood and to prevent chickens from attacking already injured birds.
  • The glasses hinder chickens’ views so they cannot see objects directly in front of them. This discourages attacks, as birds feel less confident attacking others.
  • Some glasses include lenses, which swing open and closed depending on a chicken’s position.

To ensure the animal well-being and maintain profits, farmers must continually monitor living conditions, and provide proper care and attention to their livestock.