Sector - All
Location - Canadian distribution based in Lucknow, Ont. (Protekta)
The PeckStone has been sold in many countries around the world since 2013. “We are in talks with most of the main producers in Canada who are currently working with the PeckStones to adopt them as part of their enrichment programs,” reports Dr. Faraz Ansari, from the manufacturer ViloMix in Germany.
The PeckStone is a behavioural enrichment that promotes the search for food, consumption of feed and mobility. Beaks are also worn off, which can reduce pecking injuries. The PeckStone can be left in a food bowl, placed directly on the floor or on top of an upturned bowl. It can also be hung, which the manufacturer says is especially good for turkey husbandry. The product can be kept at activity height as the birds grow taller, raised once or twice throughout the growing period. Various degrees of hardness are being registered in Canada.
The shape of the PeckStone is designed to be well-accepted by birds. The mineral composition (95 per cent minerals) allows for added intake of calcium, magnesium, sodium and trace elements, supporting bone structure, better plumage and general health.
Dr. Stephanie Torrey, senior scientist at the University of Guelph’s Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, has been studying enrichments for broilers, including this product. She notes that there hasn’t been much research in this area, and adds that some animal welfare assurance schemes have requirements for different enrichments (e.g., structural enrichments like ramps or perches, and oral enrichments like mineral blocks).
“Feather pecking isn't prevalent in broiler chickens, so we didn't have a prediction on the use of the PeckStone in terms of reducing injurious behaviour,” Torrey says. “But we’re interested to see if it would be utilized in any manner,”
She and her team observed that broilers pecked at the product every 1.17 minutes. “However, they used the stone more often for perching (about five per cent their total time was spent perching on the stone). We are still analyzing data between strains to quantify use of the PeckStone (and other enrichments) and how they change over time. I do think it's a great product, even if broilers aren't using it as directed. I imagine that it would have a positive effect on reducing pecking in layers, breeders and turkeys, but we have not studied that.”
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