Beak trimming

Beak trimming, or ‘debeaking’, involves partial amputation of the beak in order to prevent or reduce feather pecking and cannibalism. It is traditionally performed by removing one-third to one-half of the upper mandible and sometimes also a part of the lower one with a heated blade.

It should be done when the birds are young (6-9 days). If it is done later, the birds develop neuromas at the cut tip and hypersensitivity in region as a result. Beak trimming is banned in some countries, e.g. Sweden, whereas in other countries new methods such as bio laser and infrared amputation methods are being tried.

Nine day old pullet chick just beak trimmed in the now typical way in several European countries & meeting the requirements of EU Council Directive 1999/74/EC - "Member States may authorise beak trimming provided it is carried out by qualified staff on chickens that are less than 10 days old and intended for laying". Photo: Arnold Elson

The same animal 20 weeks old. Photo: Arnold Elson

Beaktrimming of pheasant chick. Photo: Jørgen B. Kjær