Cannibalism frequently occurs in free-range poultry keeping. An inventory in the Netherlands showed the severity of the problem. Also in our neighbouring countries the problem of cannibalism is found. A short literature review showed that a wealth of factors - environmental, ontogenetical and genetical - may play a role in the development of cannibalism. The most promising way to reach a solution seems to be to adapt the animal to its - free-range - environment. Heritability estimates of feather pecking and cannibalism are reasonably high. Especially the molecular genetical analysis together with ethological analysis can show the genetic background (markers or even genes) that is responsible for the cannibalism. Selection against this vice must be feasible.

P. Koene

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 27: Reproduction; fish breeding; genetics and the environment; genetics in agricultural systems; disease resistance; animal welf, , 393–400, 1998
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