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INFRARED BEAK TREATMENT

02/15/2014
    

INTRODUCTION

It is generally accepted that in the context of modern commercial egg production it is necessary to apply some form of beak treatment to prevent cannibalism and feather picking which are manifestations of aggression.  Due to welfare considerations, regulatory authorities in many countries in Europe are intent on banning beak treatment which they consider an “amputation” or “mutilation”. This action may in many situations paradoxically result in a lower standard of flock welfare as the results of beak-induced injuries will be intensified.

In Germany, Paragraph 6 of the Animal Protection Code bans beak trimming although exceptions can be allowed, subject to approval by state veterinary authorities.  Shortening of the beak will be allowed for the next four years but the procedure must be performed before the 10th day after hatch.

The Nordic nations and Switzerland completely forbid any beak treatment.  The Netherlands has announced a ban which will take effect in 2018.  In the UK, cessation of beak trimming is scheduled to commence in 2015. The RSPCA which is the leading arbiter of welfare in Great Britain allows commercial layer hatcheries to apply the Infrared Beak Treatment system for pullets destined for production under the Freedom Food Program.