Beak trimming of commercial poultry
Ratification Date: 01 Aug 2010
Beak trimming of commercial poultry is endorsed only in situations in which it is needed to reduce the prevalence of pecking and cannibalism which is not able to be controlled by other means. Husbandry procedures aimed at reducing the prevalence of these behavioural problems should also be implemented.
Only minimal beak trimming by competent persons qualified under the national competency standards is supported, and it must be performed at the earliest possible age of the birds. The procedures for workplace training of beak trimmers, which has been developed under the auspices of Australian Eggs (formerly the Australian Egg Corporation), is recommended.
Research and selection for less aggressive strains of birds that may reduce the need for beak trimming is strongly supported.
When observations within a poultry flock and/or experience from previous flock histories indicate the occurrence or likelihood of traumatic pecking or cannibalism, routine beak trimming is one management option.
The Egg Standards of Australia (ESA) quality assurance program1 developed by Australian Eggs, includes a "Managing Fowl Behaviour"guidelines which address best practice beak trimming protocols. These resources are designed to assist workplace trainers with the training of beak trimmers in the egg industry.
This approach clearly defines the roles of the workplace trainer. It also provides formal recognition of trainees’ skills by assessment (accreditation) and the development of national competency standards.
At the same time, there is a need to implement other husbandry procedures to reduce the likelihood of commercial poultry developing behavioural problems associated with pecking and cannibalism in all production systems. This involves attention to:
- types of rearing and production facilities
- stocking densities
- feed formulations, and
- management throughout lay.
The suitability of strains for particular production systems requires ongoing assessment.
The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) supports the development and implementation of new beak trimming methods, such as the use of infrared technology.
Other relevant policies and position statements
Australian Eggs QA Program: https://www.australianeggs.org.au/for-farmers/egg-quality-standards/
Australian Eggs Publication: Managing Fowl Behaviour: https://www.australianeggs.org.au/for-farmers/animal-care-welfare/#item-802