Ideally, debeaking machine (electric) should be used in debeaking the birds. However, this depends on the number of the birds. For instance, birds less than 200 pieces in number can be debeaked using a very hot knife. The use of scissors in really not advisable as the beaks can grow back very quickly.
Who does beak trimming?
Hot blade beak trimming is performed by contract teams, individual farmers and some large poultry companies. The majority of birds are trimmed by contract teams. Birds must be beak-trimmed by an accredited beak-trimmer to ensure that nationally agreed standards are maintained and the welfare of the birds is not compromised.
The infrared treatment machine is installed by the supplier and leased by hatcheries. It is monitored and controlled by the supplier via a communication system and on-site computer.
When is beak trimming done?
Beak trimming is carried out at various ages depending on the preference of the farm manager. The most common ages for birds to be beak-trimmed are:
- Day-old (most common)
- 5–10 days old
- 4–6 weeks
- 8–12 weeks
- Touch up trim of adult birds (mainly in alternative systems)
How is beak trimming done?
An infrared beak trimming method, using a non-contact, high intensity, infrared energy source to treat the beak tissue, is the most common method now in use. Initially the beak surface remains intact but after a few weeks the sharp hook of the beak erodes.
Experiments have also been conducted using lasers for beak trimming, however this technology is not used for beak trimming on farms. A hot blade beak trimming machine, with an electrically heated blade, is another method that has been commonly used in the past, now being surpassed by infrared.
The different ways of trimming the beak of birds are:
- Use of machine
- Use of knife
How to Use the Debeaking Machine
The debeaking machine makes it faster and easier to debeak chickens. There are automatic and semi-automatic poultry beak trimming machine. Follow the procedures below to use the automatic debeaking (beak trimming) machine.
- When the switch is turned on, adjust the temperature of the movable blade till it looks reddish or bright.
- When the movable blade glows, start the motor switch and the boat-shaped switch.
- Adjust the aperture of the micro cutter blade according to the beak size.
- Hold the chicken’s feet with the left hand, the neck with the right thumb, and pin the throat with the forefinger of the right hand. Stick the beak of the chicken into the aperture.
- Bleeding stops in 2 – 4 seconds after the movable blade drops.
How to Use the Debeaking Knife
You can use the normal kitchen knife to debeak your chickens. How to do this:
- You will need a partner to do this comfortably
- Place the knife on burning stove or coal and allow to be red hot
- Let your partner hold the chicken’s legs and hold the head (toward the mouth) of the chicken with one hand and gently cut the pointed tip of the chicken’s beak using the hot knife.
- Release the bird afterwards.
You can do this easily and faster by using an Handheld Electric Debeaking knife
Hot blade beak trimming versus infrared beak treatment
|Hot blade beak trimming||Infrared beak treatment|
|Biosecurity||Beak trimmers move from farm to farm-potential biosecurity issues with personal hygiene and equipment cleanliness.||Equipment located in clean hatchery. Staff maintain high levels of biosecurity.|
|Bird catching||Birds can be stressed from catching and restraint on farm.|
|Equipment set up||Different set up for equipment when beak trimming different ages of bird, shed type or location.||Equipment located in hatchery.||Settings adjusted easily using key pad on processor|
|Trimming||Experienced operators can judge amount of beak to remove. Accurate beak trimming minimises problems later in bird’s life.||Physical damage to the birds while being handled for beak-trimming. Exposed cauterised wound. Potential for bleeding from beak. Excessive beak trimming can impair beak function. Insufficient beak trimming results in beak regrowth.||A predetermined amount of beak tissue is exposed to a defined amount of infrared energy. The exposed tissues remains intact and there are no open wounds or blood loss.||Restrained by head on automated carousel for 15 seconds. Excessive energy can damage soft tissues and impair beak function. Insufficient beak treatment results in beak regrowth and the need to re-trim. Dark pigmentation in the beak can lead to split beaks.|
|Retrimming||Birds can be re-trimmed at any age with the hot blade.||Re-trimming can only be performed with hot blade.|
|Quality of beak trimming||Quality assurance checks on beaks have been documented in an accreditation program referred to in Australian Code of practice for Domestic Poultry.||In-house quality assurance program developed.||Quality assurance program needs inclusion in Australian Code of Practice for Domestic Poultry.|
|Records||Records kept on beak trimming quality and bird performance.||Records kept on beak trimming quality and bird performance.|
|Evaluation||Beak trimmers and farmers evaluate performance of birds after trimming.||In house records of beak treatment and bird performance.|
|Summary||Open wound, re-trimming commonly practiced to control pecking.||
No open wounds; more reliable treatment, beak condition superior. If beaks regrow re-trimming required with hot blade to avert cannibalism.