What is Debeaking or Beak Trimming?
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 (7-9 days) and few weeks-old (8-10 weeks). The advantage of debeaking at one-week-old is that, the operation would have a minimum effect on chick’s body weight and it is not necessary to carry it out again a second time during the rearing period. For precise beak trimming operation, the birds should be few weeks old (8-10 weeks). The general disadvantage of debeaking or beak trimming is that, when it is improperly done, it could take long for the birds to regain body weight.
The different ways of trimming the beak of birds are:
- Use of machine
- Use of knife
Rules in Debeaking or Beak Trimming
Before beak trimming:
- Do not debeak birds if the flock is not in good health or if it is undergoing from vaccine reactions.
- Add Vitamin K to the drinking water 48 hours prior to trimming and after to prevent haemorrhages.
- Check the equipment and make sure that the trimming blade has the right temperature to cauterize, but not so high to form a blister on the beak later.
During beak trimming:
- The operator should be installed and seated comfortably in such a way that each beak will be cut in the same manner.
- Do not rush the process: a too high rate (number of birds/minute) could lead to a higher chance of errors and poor uniformity.
- Clean the blades with sandpaper after use of 5,000 chicks or birds.
- Make sure the tongue of the bird is not burned.
After beak trimming:
- Increase the water level in the drinkers and the pressure in the pipes to make it easy for the birds to drink.
- Make sure that the depth of the feed is adequate. Do not empty the feeders for a week following beak trimming.
- It is important to give birds anti-stress or multivitamins before and after the operation so as to reduce the stress effect on the birds’ performance.
It is highly beneficial to debeak poultry birds to reduce mortality due to pecking, and wastage of feed to save cost.