Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #224275

Title: Infrared beak treatment: an alternative to conventional beak trimming

item Cheng, Heng Wei

Submitted to: Poultry Science Association Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/12/2008
Publication Date: 7/20/2008
Citation: Dennis, R.L., Fahey, A.G., Cheng, H. 2008. Infrared beak treatment: an alternative to conventional beak trimming [abstract]. Poultry Science Association Meeting Abstract. p. 44.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Infrared lasers have been widely used in human medicine and its results are reliable, predictable and reproducible. Infrared lasers have recently been designed with the expressed purpose of providing a less painful, more precise beak treatment compared with conventional beak trimming. This study was designed to examine the potential of infrared (IR) beak treatment to provide a welfare friendly alternative to the conventional hot blade (HB) method in chickens. The birds were beak trimmed by IR at the hatchery or HB at day 7 at a commercial production setting, in accordance with standard procedure. The beak trimming and associated physiological characteristics including production and aggressive behavior were analyzed in the birds at 30 weeks of age. There was no difference in egg production (P>0.05) or bird body weight (P>0.05) between the two beak trim treatments. Birds also exhibited no difference in additional stress physiology measures such as fluctuating asymmetry (P>0.05) and heterophil and lymphocyte profiles (P>0.05). Surprisingly, IR birds showed superior feather condition (P<0.05) and reduced aggressiveness (P<0.05) under high light intensity, even though less of the beak tip was removed. Infrared trimming may even further reduce the damage done by aggressive and feather pecking without the painful procedure of the HB method. Indeed, IR trimming may provide a more welfare friendly alternative to conventional beak trimming without compromising productivity.