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Beak trimming of laying hens: welfare costs and benefits

Code: 9781838790974
Dorothy McKeegan, University of Glasgow, UK

Chapter synopsis: Beak trimming is a procedure routinely applied in the egg industry to prevent feather pecking and cannibalism. The traditional method of trimming by application of a hot blade (HB) has been superseded by infrared (IR) beak trimming. Both methods are associated with acute pain, but there is evidence that IR trimming has welfare advantages over HB trimming. Injurious pecking in laying hens remains a complex and intractable problem and unpredictable pecking outbreaks are more likely and more severe in intact beak flocks. Beak trimming is still the most effective preventative strategy available and, while it remains the case that we cannot reliably control injurious pecking under commercial conditions, the welfare costs imposed by IR beak trimming are probably justified.

DOI: 10.19103/AS.2016.0012.26
Table of contents 1 Introduction 2 Feather pecking and cannibalism 3 The welfare impact of beak trimming 4 Effects of beak trimming on injurious pecking and production 5 Alternative strategies to reduce the need for beak trimming 6 Conclusions and future directions for research 7 Where to look for further information 8 References

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