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Beak Treatment

Beak trimming is not necessary in all management systems. However, if beak treatment is performed, proper procedures should be followed.
The pullets are most successfully beak trimmed at hatch by infrared beak treatment, or between 7 and 10 days of age by using a precision cam-activated beak trimmer. A second beak trim is not always necessary in commercial birds, but a re-trim is recommended in parent stock at 12 to 14 weeks of age.

Infrared beak treamtment at hatch as shown at 4 days of age (left)
The result of an appropriate beak trim as it appears at 18 weeks of age (right)

The precision cam-activated beak trimmer should be equipped with a guide plate with holes of 4.00, 4.37, and 4.75 mm (10/64, 11/64, and 12/64 in). The proper size hole should be selected to provide a width of 2 mm between the nostrils and the cauterizing ring. The proper size hole will depend both on size and age of the chicks. The temperature of the beak-trimming blade should be approximately 595°C (1100°F) and should be checked with a pyrometer. A variation of 38°C (100°F) is common due to external influences and cannot be detected by the human eye, but will negatively affect the beak treatment. Therefore, using a line-voltage meter according to the manufacturer's instructions will facilitate maintaining the proper blade temperature at all times.

Guide plate holes for precision beak trim

Beak-trim recommendations
The following precautions and recommendations must be observed:

  • Do not beak-trim sick birds.
  • Do not hurry.
  • Use only well-trained crews for beak trimming. Use electrolytes and vitamins (containing vitamin K) in the water 2 days before and 2 days after beak trimming.
  • Use 360°-access nipple drinkers.
  • Keep feed at the highest level for several days after beak trimming.
  • If a coccidiostat is used in the feed, supplement it with water-soluble coccidiostats until feed consumption returns to normal.
  • If a second beak trimming is performed, the starter feed can be re-introduced for 1 to 3 weeks afterwards to account for the lower feed intake and ensure body weight gains.

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