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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Research Project #429643

Research Project: Probiotic, Bacillus subtillis, Prevents Feather Pecking and Cannibalism in Laying Hens

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

Project Number: 5020-32000-013-27-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2015
End Date: Aug 31, 2020

Our aims are to determine 1) If sporulin inhibits feather pecking and cannibalism and 2) if sporulin reduces mortality and increases egg production.

Two trials, each lasting 6 months will be initiated in April 2016 and 2017. Hens from Trial 1 and Trial 2 at 15 week of age will be randomly assigned to 1 of the 3 treatments: 1) Hens fed with regular diet, 2) Infrared beak trimmed hens fed with regular diet; and 3) Hens fed with regular diet mixed with sporulin (250 ppm). Mortality and egg production will be recorded daily. Video recordings of behaviors (including feather pecking and cannibalism) will be collected at 5 week intervals until the end of the study. Samples of blood, brain, intestine, and intestinal contents (n=12 per treatment) will be collected at 20, 30, and 40 week of age for analyses of serotonin and catecholamines and their respective receptors as well as the stress hormone corticosterone. Behavior, neuroendocrine function, and production will be compared among treatments. The overall goal is to develop a method for preventing feather pecking and cannibalism in laying hens and improving livability and egg production.