Tips about beak trimming in layers.

One of the main topics of concern for the laying poultry sector is the practice of beak trimming in layers and all the legislation that has been developed in this field, especially in the European Union.

But, despite the European trend, we can find a large number of studies that point out that beak trimming, in contrast, benefits poultry performance and animal welfare.
However, the European trend may indicate that, in the not too distant future, beak trimming in all its forms may be banned, so we must be prepared to raise pullets with alternative techniques to the current ones.

With this article, Zucami’s technical team intends to present TIPS that will help our customers to know the different practices of beak trimming.

What is the beak and why do we cut it?

The initial part of the digestive tract of the birds is formed by the beak, which is in constant growth during the life of the hen.
The beak is composed of a bony base, vascular and nervous tissue, dermis and keratin, commonly known as the ranfotheca.
Because the beak is continuously growing, beak trimming is important as it redirects its growth, as well as rounding the tip of the beak so that it is not so pointed, so that if there is subsequent pecking, it will be less damaging than if the trimming had not been done.
There are two basic purposes of beak treatment techniques:
Avoid feed waste.
The incidence of pecking is a consequence of different situations.

HEN WITH BEAK TREATMENT

HEN WITHOUT BEAK TREATMENT

Feather dropping or feather pecking is a normal behavior in birds, but there are occasions when this can lead to more aggressive pecking and even cannibalism.
The final consequence is, in most cases, the death of the affected bird.

    Different practices for beak cutting.

At present, there are two different systems for beak trimming within the framework of the regulations in force. On one hand, there is the classic system using a hot blade and on the other hand, the infrared technology.
The basic principle has always been to remove part of the beak to avoid “incisive” beak development.
The common considerations for both methods are:
A minimum length of 2 mm must be left up to the nostrils (if the beak is shorter, it does not allow a good grasp of the feed, it can damage the nostrils as well as the tongue and cause alterations in the uniformity of the batch).
Beak trimming should be performed only on healthy animals.
Several studies point to the advantages of infrared treatment, emphasizing greater precision and more even beaks throughout the life of the animals compared to blade cutting.

    Hot Blade

The first treatments were performed at 8 to 12 weeks of age with incandescent blades and a cut that reached very close to the nose, to evolve to the current situation in which it is performed at 5 to 10 days, with a maximum cut of 1/3 of the beak and also performed with an incandescent blade.
On farm before ten days of age.
The part of the beak that is removed is extracted on the spot.
One more farm anagement.
Specialized staff is required.
More complex and requires a good technique (cauterization time, blade temperature and blade orientation are of great importance for a good cut).
Variable uniformity in the development of the beaks in the batch.
The possibility of increased mortality during handling if caution is not exercised.

Infrared peak cutting.

For more than 10 years, there has been a beak treatment method based on the infrared treatment technique. This method is used at the age of one day in hatcheries and is present in more than 40 countries all over the world.
The system is not based on the use of a LASER, its source for treatment is INFRARED..
The most important parameters and aspects to control for a correct treatment are:
Heads.
Mirrors.
Mask.
Treatment intensity.

The dark pigmentation of the beaks absorbs energy more quickly and that is why the intensity applied to white layers is higher than to brown layers.

In the hatchery.
The part of the beak that is removed falls off three weeks after treatment.
It is carried out during the finishing of the pullets at hatching, it does not involve any new stress.
Automated, does not require specialized staff.
It is more precise and does not leave open wounds with the risk of infection.
In the longer term, the beak grows more slowly.
Great uniformity in the development of the beaks in the batch.
More careful care of weaker animals at pullet start-up (ensure good access to water).
Pain free.