Toe pecking

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Toe pecking, an abnormal behaviour of birds in captivity, occurs when one bird pecks the toes of another using its beak. This behaviour has been reported in hens[1][2] and ostriches.[3] Studies have shown that hens exposed to toe pecking have significantly enlarged adrenal glands, indicating increased physiological stress. Hens exposed to toe pecking will step off a raised platform more quickly than control hens, possibly suggesting a heightened fear of elevation.[4] In severe forms, toe pecking can be classified as a cannibalistic behaviour and has been reported as a cause of mortality.[5]

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  1. ^ Leonard, M.L., Horn, A.G. and Fairful, R.W. (1995). Correlates and consequences of allopecking in White Leghorn chickens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 43: 17-26
  2. ^ Buitenhuis, A.J., Rodenburg, T.B., Siwek, M., Cornelissen, S.J.B., Nieuwland, M.G.B., Crooijmans, R.P.M.A., Groenen, M.A.M., Koene, P., Bovenhuis, H., and van der Poel, J.J. (2003). Identification of quantitative trait loci for receiving pecks in young and adult laying hens. Poultry Science, 82: 1661-1667
  3. ^ Bubier N.E., Deeming, C. and Ayres L.L. (1996). Behaviour of ostrich chicks in captivity: An analysis of time budgets. British Poultry Science, 37 (supplement): S13-S14
  4. ^ Krause E.T., Petow, S. and Kjaer J.B. (2011). A note on the physiological and behavioural consequences of cannibalistic toe pecking in laying hens (Gallus gallus domesticus). Archiv für Geflugelkunde, 75: 140-143
  5. ^ Craig, J.V. and Lee, H.-Y. (1990). Beak trimming and genetic stock effects on behavior and mortality from cannibalism in White Leghorn-type pullets. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 25: 107-123