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5 Reasons Why Your Poultry Needs Beak Trimming

Debeaking is a term in poultry that refers to the act of reducing the length of a bird’s beak,
especially layers and turkey for several reasons. It is also called poultry beak trimming or beak
conditioning. In poultry, there is a term called pecking order which is the basic pattern of social
organization within a flock of poultry in which each bird pecks another bird that is lower on the
scale without fear of retaliation and submits to pecking by birds of higher rank. Debeaking is
important to reduce the effects of the pecking order among many other reasons.

Birds debeaking comes with a lot of controversies. Some think it’s brutal but it is just the same
pain level as trimming the fingernails. Debeaking is done mainly to day-old chicks when they are vaccinated and it is mainly done on birds that are being reared for laying eggs.  Basically, the process involves the removal of part of the bird’s upper or lower beak using electrically heated blades or infrared lasers.


There are three common methods of debeaking chicks:

  1. Block debeaking in which one-third of both the upper and lower mandibles are removed
    in one operation
  2. Removal of two-thirds of the upper mandible only and
  3. Removal of one-third of the upper mandible and the tip of the lower mandible.

Reasons For Debeaking in Poultry

  1. Debeaking poultry birds helps to reduce cannibalism
  2. Low and pointless beaks ensure the welfare of Poultry birds
  3. It is of economic advantage for the producer
  4. Prevents feed wastage
  5. Reduces mortality in poultry farms.

Debeaking Machine, Types and How They Work

The process of reducing a bird’s beak is very painful and should be done in a way that is effective while considering the physical stress the act will have on the bird. There are two main machines that are used to debeak poultry birds. They are; the Infrared machine and the hot blade.

The Infrared Machine: The infrared beak trimming technique uses a non-contact and high-intensity source of infrared energy. The infrared plays the role of treating the chicken’s beak tissue as part of the beak trimming process. This method is so unique that the beak stays intact for a while (perhaps several weeks) before the sharp hook on the beak erodes and falls off.

The Hot Blade: This machine has an electrically heated blade that cuts off the upper or lower part of the bird’s beak. At the moment this method is being phased out as the infrared beak trimming takes effect.

Poultry Beak Trimming With Hot Blade


Few Tips to Note When Debeaking Poultry Birds

The process of cutting poultry birds’ beaks is a very technical and stressful one. Not everyone can carry out the chicken debeaking exercise even though it looks so simple. Experienced individuals who are qualified to debeak should be used. The following tips are important to note before, during or after the process of  debeaking:

  1. Debeaking is a very stressful process for the bird hence, it is necessary to reduce the process of picking the birds to a very minimal level. Running and chasing the birds can increase their stress level.
  2. Be careful with the birds and ensure that the poultry house is calm.
  3. Be sure that the debeaking machine is in proper working condition. 
  4. The blade of the machine should be hot enough for a quick process. This will help reduce the pain the birds will go through. 
  5. Administer multivitamins that are rich in vitamin k to the birds. Vitamin k is a vitamin supplement that helps blood clotting. This will help the birds heal fast in case of injury during the debeaking process. The multivitamin can be administered two days before the process and after too.
  6. Ensure to pull the birds’ tongues backwards by holding their throat to avoid serious damage. Cutting the tongue is as good as killing the birds.
  7. Do not cut the beak too short or close to the nostril. Cutting it too close can damage the bird’s organ.
  8. In a free-range poultry system, there is no need to cut the birds’ beaks as there is enough space for the birds to move around and avoid each other.

Negative Effects of a Poor Debeaking Process

A proper debeaking process is as important as debeaking the birds. There are negatives of a poorly done poultry beak trimming and they include:

  1. The beaks of birds contain blood vessels and nerve endings. Cutting the beak anyhow without care can cause bleeding and pain to the birds
  2. Trimming the birds’ beaks too short can cause impaired functionality of the beak
  3.  It is a stressful process and when birds build up physiological stress, a decline in production can set in.


Debeaking is a widely practised process in poultry management and they help farmers reduce cannibalism, pecking order, feather plucking and feed wastage among other advantages. It is important to carry out the process properly and ensure the bird are in good condition after the process. Are you ready to debeak your poultry birds? Check out our website for the various options of debeaking machines you might want to go for depending on your scale of production.

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