The effects of plastic spectacles on the condition and behaviour of pheasants
Plastic spectacles are often fitted to pheasants in laying pens to reduce feather pecking and egg eating. This study examined the effects of spectacles on the physiological condition and behaviour of pheasants in harem and flock laying pens. In 2006 and 2007, data were collected from 21 game farms across England. On each site, two identical pens were randomly allocated a treatment, with or without spectacles. The physiological condition of pheasants in each treatment pen was assessed before and after the laying season. In flock pens, the behaviour of spectacled and non-spectacled pheasants was also assessed weekly. Detailed records of egg collections and mortality were also kept. Spectacles had no effect on the behaviour of male pheasants but affected the behaviour of females by reducing pecking and increasing head shaking/scratching. Although spectacles halved feather damage in females, and at least halved incidences of skin damage in both sexes, they increased bill and nostril damage in females while causing no detectable damage in males. Egg collections and mortality rates did not differ between spectacled and non-spectacled pens.