Importance of Basic Research on the Causes of Feather Pecking in Relation to Welfare
Division Animals in Science and Society, Animal Behaviour, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University Utrecht, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands
Division of Farm Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Behavior & Welfare Group (Formerly Emotion & Cognition Group), University Utrecht, 3584 CL Utrecht, The Netherlands
Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, Universiteitsweg 100, 3584 CG Utrecht, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(2), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020213 (registering DOI)
Received: 14 December 2019 / Revised: 13 January 2020 / Accepted: 21 January 2020 / Published: 28 January 2020
Feather pecking is a problematic behavior shown by commercially held laying hens who peck at and pull out feathers of their pen mates. In effort to battle the economic and welfare issues that result from feather pecking many studies on the subject focus on practical solutions (i.e., they follow an applied research approach), while basic research related to feather pecking, research without a practical aim in mind, has received far less attention. Both applied and basic research contribute to a better understanding of feather pecking behavior. In this article we argue that basic research could make an important contribution to science-based knowledge of the causes of feather pecking and the welfare of hens performing this behavior and of the hens receiving the pecks.