Animal nutrition company Alltech has launched a new pecking block called Natu-Pek, which it said encouraged natural behaviour and provided natural nutrition in all poultry species during each stage of production.
Natu-Pek is designed to encourage natural pecking, natural foraging and natural beak conditioning in commercial flocks, reducing stress and stress-associated health issues through enrichment.. Designed to cater for up to 2,000 laying hens per block for 5–8 weeks, the peck block also emits a sweet smell that attracts birds to the enrichment the block provides and encourages repeat visits.
The blocks can be suspended from the ceiling or raised off of the ground in a dry scratch area. With increasing pressure to ban the practice of beak tipping, Natu-Pek features an abrasive finish to help naturally reduce excessive beak growth, offering a proactive approach to managing abnormal pecking behaviours.
“Promoting natural behaviours can help promote feather cover and health while diminishing aggression and injurious pecking, thus improving productivity and reducing medication use, interventions and mortality,” said Adam Platt, regional poultry sales manager with Alltech UK, who has been working closely with producers to trial Natu-Pek and develop the new welfare-enhancing peck block.
Charles Mear, of Wood Farm Free-Range Eggs, has been trialling the Natu-Pek blocks on his family’s two 14,000-bird units in Bedfordshire since September and has seen positive results. “The sweet-smelling blocks are big and sturdy enough to occupy several birds each side at one time, are lasting well and are easy to hang,” Mear said.