Monday, June 21, 2010
De-beaked and full beaked chickens
On the left is an example of a beak-trimmed or de-beaked hen and on the right is a hen with a full beak. In many cases the 'trimming' is much more severe.
It's obviously easier for a hen with a full beak to pick up worms, spiders and grubs etc than for a young one with some of her beak cut off. To see more click here
Some in the industry claim that nowadays birds just have a light 'trim' with a laser. But that sort of comment ignores reality. Most of the 'beak-trimmed' birds I have seen in cage, barn or so-called 'free range' farms (other than members of the Free Range Farmers Association) have been severely 'trimmed'. There is only one 'quasi free range' farm I have inspected where it was difficult to tell that the hens' beaks had been 'trimmed'.
The dumb thing is that there is no need for this mutilation of birds that are genuinely free range. Some operators choose to inflict this on their hens because it is regarded as industry practice and they think it will improve their bottom line. But if the hens have plenty of room and they are kept in relatively small flocks, they can escape from their aggressive bretheren and cannibalism is not a significant issue.
However, the farms which are chasing big dollars don't want the work and costs associated with doing the job properly. They want to run many thousands of birds and they choose to de-beak their birds 'just in case' there is a cannibalism problem. To see some of the alternatives to de-beaking click here