Discussion created on 08/03/2013

How to get rid of vent picking problem in layers?

Dear experts! It has really been very upsetting layer rearing for us for this season due to vent picking. The deaths due to vent picking is higher than deaths due to any other problems or diseases. The birds started picking vent from around 5 weeks of age and has not stopped till now (73 weeks at present). We are well aware that vent picking has multifactorial causes and after seeking different advices from different veterinarians, following adjustments were made.

1) Stocking density decreased from 1.7 sq. feet per bird to 1.8 sq. feet per bird (deep-litter rearing)
2) Salt content in feed increased to 5 Kg/tonn
3) Micro-mineral (trace mineral) content in feed increased to 2.5 Kg/tonn
4) Dl-methionine in feed increased to 3 Kg/tonn
5) Reduced the light intensity by half (problem is we don't have any device to calculate the exact lux units)
6) Feed green leafs of cabbage, berseem and other grass by hanging them near water lines
7) Included MBM in feed as animal protein source
and many more...........

We made all the adjustment as suggested by the veterinarians. But still the bird hasn't stopped picking. What can be the solution?
Dear experts ! please discuss on why actually the bird picks the vent? What is its physiological reason? What causes are responsible for it? and please throw light on how can we get rid of this problem. Please suggest all the preventive measures. We don't want to see this bloody vent picking in our next flock. Thanks in advance!

With best regards
Bibek Bandhu Regmi

Bibek Bandhu Regmi
Veterinary Doctor
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Sergio Velez Sergio Velez
Animal Nutritionist
August 5, 2013

There is some information that is missing in your commentaries which is important to attempt to diagnose your situation: 1. What genetics are your layers? 2. When (age) does the vent picking problema begins? What is the mortality rate you are experiencing in the flock? 3. How are you distributing the daily feed in time ? What is the physical form of feed and daily intake (gr/b/day) 4. What is the flocks body weight? 5. What is the mortality body weight? Are dying birds extremely apart fromo average body weight? Very light or very heavy? 5. Do you beak trim ? 6. Have you weighed eggs to determine how do they comprae to the genetics guide? 7. Are there any other noticeable characteristics of the flock: body fat, (have you determined it?), is there layer fatigue or bone incompetence? 8. What is the number of birds per drinking and feed source? In my opinión You really dont need a luxometer to measure light intensity. Light is problem when it is very intense or birds receive direct sunlight or (most probable) its very fluctuating. Birds do not need or respond (in production, yes, in behavior) from 1 to 5 luxes. Light intensity is sufficient when you can read a newspaper print without aid. If you could add up this info, perhaps answers (or attempts to) would be comming your way. Vent pecking, in addition to all these variables and the ones you mentioned can become a learned behavior.
Farook Kahloon Farook Kahloon
August 5, 2013
As mention above,Genetics of Layers must considered in this matter
You also note birds behavior on feeding,anything deviate from normal elaborate something to you.
Also feeder er place at birds level so birds can can blunt there beaks by using them against feeder er
You can use lux meter for light measurement as well
This is very common practice in our region as well.Share some good material

Kamal Eldin Abdelmagid Kamal Eldin Abdelmagid
Poultry farmer
August 5, 2013
vent pecking during rearing could be totally eleminated through double debeaking,but if pecking exacerbated during production please recheck the following :-
1- egg weight.
2- bird weight.
3- the weight of the birds during the onset of laying.
4- the weight of the abdominal fat compared to bird weight.
5- and finally the quantity of feed per bird per day.
my advice to you brother try to reduce the feed to certain level without affecting production and double the choline containt in the ration.
August 6, 2013
Apart from all the measures provided by my fellow members, it should also be in noticed that the behaviour of vent picking spreads like a contagious disease. Also Blood makes the bird attract and encourage the behaviour. Immediate isolation is recommended, once such behaviour or blood or protrusion etc. are observed in the herd.White birds are more susceptible.

Control is the best way to minimize this vice and also debeaking at proper age is recommended.
Sergio Velez Sergio Velez
Animal Nutritionist
August 6, 2013

What really disturbs me from your comments is the mention that vent pecking starts at 4 weeks of age. I personally have never seen it happen so early in life. Its hard to comemmnto not knowing the genetics, since some genetics are certainly mucho more prone to vent peck than others. In any case, the apperanece of vent pecking so early suggests an issue with feed quality or with managemnat and housing and as mentioned once it starts it is difficult to top as birds learn this behaviour.
Kannan Velasamy Kannan Velasamy
Animal Nutritionist
August 6, 2013
check body weight as per genetics given by the breeders
correct de-beaking procedure
formulated ration
not necessary to add too much of additives /amino-acids (cost effectiveness is very important)
floor space you have mentioned during laying but what about during chick / grower sheds?
lighting during chick period(0-8 weeks) is it step down properly or suddenly discontinued at any age?
brooding the day old chicks properly?

in general follow the details provided by your chick company
housing (floor space in each chick/grower/laying stage)
nutritional allowances as required

Robert Serwanga Robert Serwanga
Mr. Robert Serwanga.
August 7, 2013
This behavior is common here in Africa.But depending on the age and space as mentioned. Feeds quality and management contributes big in this vice but in laying flocks we also found out that inadequate laying nests is the other factor. the design, type,space and position of the nests contributes to the behavior.
Kumar Paudel Kumar Paudel
Veterinary Doctor
August 7, 2013

I have noticed cannabalism in first week of age and in that case light intensity was more than 3 time the requirement. The problem dramatically ended within hours of decreasing light.

The measures you have mentioned above are the things that we do mostly and most of the time they are right. If you have Lohman breed,then the problem is totally feed quality. If other then
1. space per bird
2. amount of fat per bird
3. breed character.

the most important, I think, is the third one.
Ganesh Kumar Dahal Ganesh Kumar Dahal
Managing Director MDH Pharmaceuticals Pvt.Ltd.
October 3, 2013

Dear Bibek,

Vent pecking or cloacae cannibalism is most often found in layers birds and also seen in broilers flocks. There are many causes for this behavioral problem. As we all are aware that it may be caused by dietary insufficiency such as salt, vitamins, or amino acids (protein components). Other factors include stresses such as feed deprivation, over-crowding, over-heating, inadequate ventilation and bright lighting.

Most of the preventive measures you have already followed & all other learned forum members have also suggested their opinion. However, one major probability for this behavioral problem in deep litter system would be due to litter pest known as Darkling beetles/Lesser Mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus) and the Hide Beetle (Dermestes maculates). Some cases have been found contributing to vent pecking due to these pests as they are nocturnal in nature and may bite birds & damage skin of birds which may attract birds towards vent pecking behavior.

Often it is only a few hens, which are doing most of the damage. However, it is difficult to break birds of the habit and it is best to cull those that begin pecking & injured one. To distract the culprit one you may spread some red coloured paper ½” to 1” squire pieces in litter.

How to find the cull?

Observe your hens and try to identify such hens.
The presence of blood spot or reddish skin on the vent often helps in identifying them.

Treat your deep litter with a little conditioner to reduce litter pests. Do correction of dietary ration & management improvement if necessary so that you could raise your layers flock without this problem.

Best wishes !

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Frederic Hoerr
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