Sand and fibre in diet reduces cannibalism
Adding sand and fibres to poultry feed can prevent cannibalism among chickens
because the time spent on eating is prolonged. This is the conclusion of Dr
Marinus van Krimpen from Wageningen University.
Wild chickens spend 60% of their time looking for feed.
Animal etiologists think that feather picking in domesticated chickens is a
derivative from this behaviour. However, with the high energy diets in today's
commercial poultry farms, animals don't spend so much time on finding
feed anymore. This in turn leads to boredom, feather picking and even
cannibalism among the animals.
In an attempt to find some solutions to this problem, Van Krimpen
'diluted' conventional diets with sand and fibres. This made chickens spend
more time finding their feed. The fibres also made the feed more filling for the
animals. It was shown that this measure leads to a significant reduction in
feather picking if you provide the sand and fibres from the beginning. "If you
only give the older chickens the 'diluted' feed you are too late", says Van
Krimpen. "The feather picking is then already picked up by the
This study plays
in on the ban on beak trimming in 2011 and the ban on caged systems in 2012.
When all the chickens are held in groups means that the aggression will be
higher and problems such as feather picking will be increased.
some poultry farmers in the Netherlands are using the diluted feed from Van
Krimpen. The only disadvantage for the farmer is that he/she has to buy more
volume of feed. Also a bit more manure is produced.
Marinus van Krimpen
defended his PhD research on September 16 in Wageningen, the Netherlands.
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