Antagonistic behaviours

Why is it measured?

Antagonistic behaviour includes both aggressive behaviour and injurious feather pecking. High levels of these behaviours within the flock can result in extensive feather loss and painful injury, with the added risk of cannibalism, but can also increase the general level of stress and fear among the birds. This kind of behaviour may prevent all the birds being able to access all facilities, e.g. nest boxes and popholes.

How to assess and score using the AssureWel measure

4. Antagonistic behaviours
Sample size: Whole flock
Method of assessment: Observe and listen to the behaviour of birds in the house for one minute (after allowing time for birds to return to undisturbed behaviour) and during the rest of the time spent in the house or on the range.
Antagonistic behaviours include two distinct behaviours:
Aggressive behaviour           - fighting, aggressive pecking at or chasing other birds.
                                                  A social behaviour to establish pecking order.
Injurious feather pecking    - includes pulling out feathers, pecking at wounds or vent.
                                                  Believed to be redirected foraging behaviour.
Both are often signalled by a loud squawk or vocalisation.
Record: Number of incidents of antagonistic behaviour observed or heard. Identify, if possible, whether either aggressive behaviour and/or injurious feather pecking are observed.


  1. Feather loss
  2. Bird dirtiness
  3. Beak trimming
  4. Antagonistic behaviours
  5. Flightiness
  6. Birds needing further care
  7. Mortality

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