Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: April 18, 2004
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Beak trimming is routinely practiced in the poultry industry to reduce the incidence of feather pecking, aggression, and cannibalism in layers, broiler breeders, turkeys, and ducks. A bird's beak is a complex functional organ with an extensive nerve supply and various sensory receptors. Beak trimming may cause pain (acute, chronic, or both) in trimmed birds due to tissue damage and nerve injury. The complexity and plasticity of the nervous system and the animal's inability to communicate verbally make pain difficult to measure directly. However, pain in animals can be recognized and assessed using physiological and behavioral parameters in response to noxious events. When evaluating whether an animal is experiencing pain, it should be noted that beak trimming-induced pain in birds is genetic-, lesion-, and age-dependent. Based on currently available data, to minimize pain, especially chronic pain, a moderate beak trimming should be performed at hatch or within 10 days of age.