According to Wikipedia, “debeaking or beak trimming is the partial removal of the beak of poultry…..” Layer hens especially must be debeaked. In this post, we will show you a step by step guide on how you can safely debeak chickens.
To ensure that your layer hens do not hurt themselves by pecking. It is important to trim their beaks.
Sometimes, a farmer may decide to remove more than a third of the chicken’s beak which permanently shortens it. This is because just as our nails grow back when cut, a scarcely trimmed beak will always grow back.
What is a beak?
A beak is located on the face of a bird, where its mouth is.
Their mouth contains a substance known as ‘keratin’ which dries on the beak making it hard sharp and pointed.
They use their beaks for picking food, pecking, and grooming.
Why you must debeak your chickens?
If you are rearing a large number of chickens especially layers, it is essential to debeak them. If debeaking is not carried out, they could peck themselves even to death.
Pecking is a completely normal behavior common among chickens. This led to the origin of the term ‘pecking order.’ It is an ordered social structure in chickens. It is a method of organization by hierarchy. This order has an influence on their activities like eating, drinking, egg-laying, and others. The strongest take the lead while the weaker ones are behind.
While this pecking order creates some sort of harmony and domination in chickens, it can be a violent activity with chickens fighting each other for its positions. Older birds can become unrelenting and cause serious injury to one another, even death.
To prevent this, it is necessary to debeak the chickens.
- Debeaking also prevents the chickens from injuring themselves while pecking their feathers.
- It also reduces feed wastage thereby saving cost.
- Debeaking also makes it easier for the farmer to handle his chickens without getting poked and injured by their sharp beaks.
How to debeak chickens successfully
Now that the importance of debeaking has been well stated it is important to know how to correctly debeak the chickens.
Removing a part of the chicken’s body is a delicate activity and must be done with caution. If it is not properly carried out, it may lead to difficulty in feeding and drinking which will definitely result in poor growth of the chickens
It is advisable to debeak your chicks at one week old because it will not have much effect on the chick’s body weight. Chickens lose weight after debeaking and it could take a long time for them to regain their body weight.
Use of a debeaking machine
Using a debeaking machine is a faster and easier way to debeak your chickens. The machine has electrically heated blades for beak trimming. While using the debeaking machine, it is important to handle the chicken carefully and without applying much pressure on the chicken.
Hold the chicken’s body and stick a part of its beak carefully into the aperture to trim it out. Afterward, the chicken will bleed for about 5 seconds.
Use of a debeaking knife
Get a properly sharpened knife and heat it red hot. Since you will be handling the knife with your hand, you will need someone to assist you to hold the chicken’s body.
Gently trim off the pointed beak and release the chicken afterward.
You can also carry out debeaking faster by using an electric handheld debeaking knife.
Whichever equipment you will use, ensure that you are not hasty or careless. Also, be careful not to allow the chicken’s tongue to be burned. If you do not have an experience of debeaking, have someone who has experienced guide you on it.
After debeaking your chickens they will lose blood and weight which will in turn affect their growth rate. So it is important to feed them effectively and efficiently to boost their growth rate. You can also give them multivitamins before and after debeaking to reduce the effect of stress on them.
If all these practices are carefully carried out, then you are bound to raise healthy birds, good luck.