Nov. 15, 2016

Beak Treatment

Animal Welfare

We are often asked about beak treatments in relation to the welfare of our hens.  Chickens are omnivores (they will eat grains, bugs and meat) and they tend by nature to sometimes engage in harmful aggressive pecking behavior. Dulling the end of the beak at an early age so that the sharp end doesn’t fully develop is a preventative measure to reduce the effects of feather pecking and causing harm to each other.

Beak Treatment – done at the hatchery at an early age

The beak treatment is done when the chicks are a day old at the hatchery by trained technicians using a specialized laser tool that exposes the beak to a short burst of high energy infra-red light that dulls the end of the beak so that the sharp point does not develop. Research has shown that the chicks are drinking, eating and behaving normally after the treatment. It is done to improve the welfare of the hen reducing the impact of feather pecking making the hen’s life more comfortable.

“Pecking order” – term started with chickens . . .

The pecking order is a reality in all hen barns (Free Range, Free Run, Enriched Colony and Conventional) and our job as caretakers is to limit the effects on the birds’ health and well-being.  After placement in the house, they quickly establish the pecking order from the more dominant hens to the least dominant, less aggressive hens. This dominance level often determines which hens get preferential access to feed and water. As a result, aggressive behaviour amongst hens competing to be at the top of the hierarchy (or pecking order) can be a health and well-being issue for them. To help reduce feather pecking and bullying (common bird behaviours), all birds receive a beak treatment at an early age. Click here for more information

Investing in research to enhance the welfare of our hens

We take the responsibility of looking after our hens very seriously, ensuring their health, well-being and comfort while they are in our care. We believe that a healthy hen is a better producing hen. We continually invest in research and work closely with government agencies, industry partners, agricultural universities and the research community to ensure that we are kept informed and implement new practices to enhance the welfare of our layer hens.