Common vices of poultry

Poultry may suffer from certain vices (bad habits), that need proper attention and care for complete eradication. These vices may cause loss to the poultry farmer. Some of the important vices are

  • Cannibalism
  • Egg eating
  • Egg hiding
  • Pica.

1. Cannibalism
Cannibalism is a condition in which birds of a flock attack their pen mate and eat its flesh, which may impose deep wounds and heavy mortality.Vent pecking is common in laying birds. Once the birds adopt this vice it spreads rapidly through the flock and it has got no direct treatment. Presence of wound especially around the clocal arifices ase the indicative of cannibilism.

Some causes responsible for cannibalism are:

  • Overcrowding in the poultry house
  • Haemorrhages in the external genitalia due to laying stress
  • Protein deficiency in the diet
  • Provision of less diet
  • Excess of corn/maize in the diet
  • Deficiency of arginine and methionine in diet.
  • Deficiency of salt and minerals

some consideration to prevent cannibalism are :
Debeaking at right age in proper way i.e One-third of the upper beak and tip of the lower beak is to be cut.

  • Isolation of birds involved in cannibalism
  • Wounded birds should also be segregated and given proper treatment.
  • Overcrowding of the birds must be immediately corrected.
  • Feed must be available in sufficient quantity at all the times.
  • Environment should be peaceful in case of layers because the disturbanceduring laying creats congested external genitalia in layers which attracts other birds for cannibalism.
  • Provision of red bulbs near laying nests may help during the period of the problem.
  • Increase the fish meal content of diet or addition of fresh raw meat.
  • vitamin, mineral mixture and salt must be increased marginally in poultry ration.
  • Increased amount of methionine in the diet is said to prevent this habit in layers.

2. Egg eating

Sometimes birds develop the tendency to eat their own eggs. Its one of the most common poultry vices. It may start due to the presence of cracked eggs or accidental breaking of eggs and once the birds develop taste for it they start breaking their own eggs.

Factors responsible for breaking of egg or cracking of egg are thin or soft egg shell or lack of sufficient bedding material in the laying area. Presence of eggs for longer period in the pens may also encourage the birds to start egg eating.

  • Prevention:
  • Isolatation of the birds
  • Qantity of lime stone and protein should be increased in the diet.
  • Egg eaters should becaged such that the eggs drop out after the lay.
  • Debeaking also reduces this tendency.
  • Darkness in the laying area may prevent his habit.
  • Egg collection interval should be reduced.

3. Egg hiding

This habit may develop in the domestic fowl which are allowed with ample freedom for movement.
They hide the eggs in the field, bushes etc.


  • Restrict freedom of movement of the birds.
  • Laying area should be built inside poultry house and made comfortable by providing sawdust, straw etc.

4. Pica:
Birds start eating materials which are not fit for consumption, such as feathers, litter material, threads, etc. It is less commonly found in modern poultry farm. Phosphorus deficiency, parasitic infestation, new litter material etc. may predispose the birds to pica. Good managemental care and balanced diet are recommended for the prevention of pica.

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