ABSTRACT: Beak trimming is necessary in commercial broiler breeders to prevent or decrease trauma as they mature. Two common beak-trimming methods were evaluated by early performance comparison with nontrimmed chicks (NBT). The robotic electrocautery device (ECD) trims and cauterizes the beak tip. The robotic infrared beak-trimming device (IBT) applies an infrared light beam to destroy the live basal tissue while leaving the hard corneum intact for the first approximately 10 d. In 2 experiments, day-of-hatch Ross 708 by-product chicks were obtained from a local hatchery, where 1/3 of the chicks were trimmed using IBT. All chicks were then transported to another hatchery where 1/3 were trimmed using ECD and 1/3 were NBT. Personnel at each hatchery were highly experienced and skilled with their respective technique. All chicks were then transported to University of Arkansas facilities. Before placement in each experiment, chicks were individually neck-tagged and weighed, and in experiment 1, beaks were measured using a digital caliper. A small but significant transient reduction in BW gain was observed at 14 d due to ECD as compared with NBT controls, although ECD was not different than IBT in experiment 1. In experiment 2, IBT birds were significantly heavier at 11 d by 7.8 and 8.7 g than the NBT or ECD, respectively. However, at d 21 and 42, no significant differences in BW or BW gain were observed. When beak trimming was performed on day of hatch by skilled and experienced personnel, little measurable effect on early performance was observed during the first 6 wk of life. Decreased broiler performance is generally considered a sensitive indication of physical or psychogenic stress. Given the marked reduction in beak-inflicted trauma with beak trimming birds as they reach sexual maturity, these results suggest that when properly performed, neither of these beak-trimming methods causes sufficient physical or psychogenic stress to markedly affect early growth rate.
Poultry Science 02/2009; 88(1):57-60. · 1.73 Impact Factor