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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 8 October 2001 Issue

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Poultry Management and Behavior:
Beak Trimming (Debeaking) Stress

debeak1.jpg (9701 bytes)63 Effect of rearing floor type and ten-day beak trimming on stress and performance of caged layers.

Abstract: Beak trimming pullets at an early age is a widespread industry practice.   There is some concern that this practice may have effects on the subsequent performance of the birds in the production phase.  Effects of beak treatment (trimmed or untrimmed) and rearing floor type (litter or wire) on performance of caged layers were evaluated in a 2 X 2 factorial arrangement of treatments.  Pullets that were trimmed or untrimmed at 10 days of age and reared on either litter or wire floors were placed in a cage house.  Production factors and stress measurements were recorded to determine detrimental effects of the early trimming and rearing floor types.  No interactions (P=.15) between rearing floor type and beak treatment were observed for BW, feed consumption, egg production, heart weight, spleen weight, or blood corticosterone.  debeak2.jpg (8410 bytes)However, an interaction (P=.02) between rearing floor type and beak treatment was observed for adrenal weight.  There were no differences (P=.08) in the final BW of the pullets.   Birds reared on litter ate considerably (P=.0002) more than those reared on wire.   There were no differences (P=.27) in egg production rate.  Adrenal weights were different (P=.007), with the litter-raised birds having much smaller adrenals at the end of the 36-wk trial.  Hearts of the beak- trimmed birds were smaller (P=.02) than those of the untrimmed birds.  There were no differences in spleen weights (P=.07) or blood corticosterone levels (P=.07).  Differences in the feather cover were observed. 193  It is tentatively concluded that stocks having high levels of cannibalism when kept with intact beaks can benefit from selection against beak-inflicted injuries when evaluated by techniques similar to those used in the present study. (Chickens are debeaked in a machine (above-right).  The results of the debeaking can be clearly seen in the photo (above-left).  It is illogical to assume that such inhumane treatment wouldn't be stressful.)


63) NAL Call. No.: 47.8 AM33P Effect of rearing floor type and ten-day beak trimming on stress and performance of caged layers. Struwe, F.J.; Gleaves, E.W.; Douglas, J.H.; Bond, P.L. Jr Champaign, Ill. : Poultry Science Association; 1992 Jan. Poultry science v. 71 (1): p. 70-75; 1992 Jan. Includes references.

193 NAL Call. No.: 47.8 AM33P Selection for reduction of beak-inflicted injuries among caged hens. Craig, J.V.; Muir, W.M. Champaign, Ill. : Poultry Science Association; 1993 Mar. Poultry science v. 72 (3): p. 411-420; 1993 Mar. Includes references.


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