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Effects of stocking density and group size on the condition of the skin and feathers of pheasant chicks
  1. J. B. Kjaer, PhD1
  1. 1 Department of Animal Health and Welfare, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark

Abstract

Twenty-two flocks of pheasants were reared from day-old to approximately six weeks of age without the use of beak trimming or other measures against feather pecking. The pheasants were housed in aviaries in groups of 80 or 240 chicks at stocking densities of 0.7, 1.3 or 4.0 birds per m2. The quality of the pheasants' plumage was poorer at the highest stocking density than at the two lower densities. Higher stocking densities resulted in higher proportions of birds with injuries to their skin (7.2 per cent, 13 per cent and 34 per cent). The group size had no significant effect on the quality of the birds' plumage, but at the largest group size there were significantly more beak-inflicted skin injuries (21 per cent v 12 per cent). In the period between 35 and 42 days of age, the quality of the birds' plumage decreased significantly.

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