Beak trimming in poultry management is the act of reducing the length of the beak of poultry birds. The purpose of doing this is to prevent feather pulling and cannibalism and to reduce feed wastage. It is a delicate operation, and if it is improperly done, it may leads to difficulties in drinking and eating, which directly leads to poor growth, unevenness in flock and even mortality as a result blood loss. The operation can be carried out at one week-old days and few weeks-old weeks.
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This is the process where part of the upper and sometimes the lower beak of the chicken is removed with electrically heated blades and more recently with infrared lasers. Debeaking implies complete removal of the beak. It is usually done to day-old chicks while they are being vaccinated and sexed.
The procedure is most common for Leghorns or Red Sex-link hens that are destined for layer houses. Broiler meat chickens are rarely beak trimmed. Normal beak Beak trimmed Cons Why is it bad to beak trim chickens?
There is evidence that the heated blades cause pain to the chickens. How painful is it? Well that is nonsense. My poultry specialist coworkers at the university explain that there are nerves going into the beak so the pain is probably a little greater than clipping your fingernails.
On the piercing pain scale, it is probably more painful than an ear piercing but much less painful than a tongue piercing. Perhaps the pain is similar to a nose piercing. On the tattoo pain scale it is probably more painful than that small star on the ankle but much less painful than the Harley Davidson across the back.
Maybe the pain is similar to a medium size serpent going up the arm. The infrared lasers appear to cause even less pain. I am more utilitarian about the issue of beak trimming.
In my backyard, I want sharp beaks on my chickens so that they can forage easier. I want them able to pick at shelled insects, garden refuse, and table scraps. And my hens with sharp beaks take care of the mice in the chicken coop better than cats do.
Pros So are there good reasons to beak trim backyard chickens? Last year, I had a demonstration flock of leghorns and red sex-links at the University research farm.
They were playing nicely together for weeks until one day, when for no apparent reason, all of the red sex-links started pecking at the base of the tail on the top back of the all of the leghorns. By the time I discovered it just a few hours after I had earlier observed them, the leghorns were a bloody mess.
So I had to separate them. A couple of days ago, I found two leghorns who had been pecked to death by the other leghorns. Again, there was no apparent reason.
There is plenty of room in the coop and paddock with good feed and water. Chickens just go crazy once in a while, particularly high strung layer breeds. So I think there are merits to beak trimming backyard layers.
It can be argued that it is a good animal welfare practice. There are diverse viewpoints on beak trimming but I value those that are based on common sense, not sensationalism.
What are the Pros and Cons to Chicken Debeaking?
Pullet management should be designed with the goal of meeting the recommended body weight and uniformity as per the breed standards. If these goals are met the pullet will be more likely to express its genetic potential. A key factor influencing the capability of the birds to meet this goal is the quality of debeaking and age at debeaking. Cannibalism is prevalent among the chickens of all ages and debeaking is only the way to prevent it. It is a great financial loss to the farmers. Debeaking must be considered as precision operation and experience is a great asset in doing it properly.
Effect of debeaking on laying hen performance
While the term debeak implies that the entire beak is removed, in fact usually less than a third of the upper beak is trimmed, and not the whole beak. They sometimes remove part of the lower beak too. Also, the entire issue of debeaking is very controversial, with animal welfare organizations worldwide calling for an end to the process, and commercial operators insisting it is essential for the viability of the industry and wellbeing of the chickens. This begs the question, what is a beak? The beak itself is covered with skin, and the keratin dries on the beak making it hard.
Debeaking: What is It and Should you Debeak Your Birds?
By FarmersJoint in Poultry 9, views Debeaking also called beak trimming is the act of cutting the lower and upper points of the beaks. The trimmed upper beak is usually shorter than the lower beak. Debeaking birds will help prevent feed wastage, cannibalism, feather pecking, and egg eating. However when they are kept in smaller groups in cages, cannibalism is reduced. Birds that are normally debeaked are laying hens, turkeys, quail and ducks. Broilers meant for meat are not debeaked because they reach slaughter weight before injurious pecking start.
How to Safely Debeak Chickens & Other Poultry Birds
A Dutch study, which examined the behaviour of non-debeaked laying hens, shares these concerns. From onwards, it will be forbidden to debeak laying hens in the Netherlands. For poultry farmers affiliated to the German KAT association the ban on beak trimming has been in place since the start of Bos, ForFarmers, Vitelia and Voergroep Zuid , performed a study in which effects of dietary treatments on production performance of debeaked and non-debeaked laying hens were tested.