Debeakers, or de-beakers are items used for debeaking a chicken – this is the process of removing the tip of a chickens beak. Chickens that are kept in a battery cage, or layer cage often need to be debeaked to stop the chickens from hurting each other. When chickens are kept very close together, as in a layer house with cages, the hens often resort to cannibalism – this is due to boredom and being tightly closeted with other chickens. The process, while seemingly cruel, if done in the corect manner – is painless. The chickens will be feeding shortly afterwards. If you are keeping chickens at home you should avoid buying hens that have been debeaked – it is easy to see – the beak will be blunt and often deformed at the tip – also the top part of the beak and the bottom part of the beak are different lengths.
A well made BEAK TRIMMER trims and cauterizes the chickens beak in a single operation. This slows down bleeding and beak regrowth. Birds usually begin eating right after trimming. De beakers are used
by turkey growers, hatchery men, broiler producers, egg producers, and game bird breeders around the world – this practise is banned for any chicken farmer who is doing free range chickens or organic chickens. Beak trimming is actually not the correct term – what actually happens is that the tip of the beak is burnt, or cauterised.
Not only is beak trimming performed on chickens but also toe clipping. Usually on 6-10 day old layer chicks. When done properly, this method of beak trimming will usually take care of the beak for the life of the bird, and you will not need to need to re trim later. A commercial beak trimmer, or debeaker will beak trim up to 150 to 1200 birds per hour
depending on whether the birds are chicks, pullets, or hens. Debeaking of layers and breeders should only need 2 +seconds of cauterization. Properly done, this method of beak trimming will usually last for the life of the bird, and eliminates the need to re trim beaks at a later date.
If your buy debeaked chickens and then try to free range the hens, they will battle to forage properly – even simple things like pecking at a tomatoes is almost impossible – you will need to feed them layer mash – although certain vegetables like spinach is easily eaten by a chicken that has had it’s beak trimmed. In many countries trimming beaks and toes is illegal – but if you are placing many chickens in a layer cage it is highly unlikely that the chickens will not hurt each other – and you should debeak or trim the chickens beaks before placing them in the battery cages. Be prepared for the law to change in South AFrica – layer cages and any poultry farming practises that are considered cruel are under review – battery farming is already banned in many European countries. A better option is probably to start with free range chickens or organic chickens – the chicken meat and the organic eggs will fetch a premium in South Africa – and the demand for free range eggs is growing as consumers are made aware of what goes on in some poultry farms – and they do not like it. The South African consumer is beginning to vote with their feet – and it would seem that intensive, cruel poultry farming techniques are going the way of the dinosaur, and that could be catastrophic if you have invested a fortune in layer cages and high tech poultry equipment like debeakers.