Debeaked chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by joanm, May 15, 2008.

  1. joanm

    joanm Songster

    May 13, 2007
    I went to the feed store yesterday and picked up four new chicks - EE's and Barred Rocks - The lady told me she would have RIR's the next day - so went by there after work and they were debeaked! They all had little red spots on their beaks - I guess it was blood - has anyone intentionally bought debeaked chicks? I couldn't bring myself to buy any - it broke my heart to see them.
  2. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    Not me. I find it odd that this was at a local feed store, done to dual purpose birds.
    I can see it with meat crosses, but not "yard birds."

    Didnt you ask why? Inquiring minds want to know!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2008
  3. joanm

    joanm Songster

    May 13, 2007
    I didn't ask - the lady that owns the place is a little flakey and I didn't see her that day.
  4. holliewould

    holliewould Songster

    May 15, 2008
    Planet Earth
    How do they eat without their beaks? I'm confused. I never heard of this before. What do they do, rip it out of their heads?
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    debeaking means permanently trimming off 1/3-1/2 of the upper beak, and 1/4-1/3 of the lower one. (It varies from a modest upper-beak-only trim to a really radical removal of much of both of 'em, but the top is always shortened more than the bottom).

    The purpose is to make it harder for chickens to pluck each others' feathers and peck each other apart. It is of ZERO relevance to backyarders who keep their flock in decent conditions, but for commercial producers raising chickens in crowded conditions it can mean the difference between a bunch of live and healthy (albeit debeaked) chickens vs wholesale cannibalism. So if people insist on keeping chickens in those conditions it may have some benefits, compared to the alternative.

    A bunch of us out here have debeaked chickens that were obtained as ready-to-lay pullets from feedstores or hatcheries, generally without realizing that what we ordered was going to come debeaked. (Although if you think about it, of *course* they are, since they are mass-raised to that age). They actually do fairly well, if some relatively minor concessions are made to their special needs for eating -- most can't pick up small pieces of feed off hard surfaces, so they need deeper food dishes or to be fed on a soft surface e.g. grass. Most of them, it doesn't obviously bother them. Still, I do not personally like it one bit, and I feel that the proper solution to crowding-induced cannibalism is to not raise them in such conditions, no matter what that does to the cost of eggs or meat. Hmph.


  6. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    The other reason to debeak is to save on feed wastage. Debeaked birds cant easily bill food out of the feeder.

    As Pat says, it has it's place in commercial poultry plants, where numbers are the name of the game.
    Then feather picking, cannabalism and feed wastage make a difference to end profit.

    But it's a solution to a non-problem for the hobbyist/samll farmer. The solution for us is simple - Keep fewer chickens in the allotted space.
  7. happyhen

    happyhen Songster

    May 8, 2008
    Northeastern Ohio
    Sorry, I don't quite know how to say this, but how disgusting and barbaric to debeak a chicken!

    When I researched hatcheries, I totally avoided those that offered that service!
  8. NorTracNY

    NorTracNY Songster

    Mar 1, 2008
    Macedon, NY
    OK, I'm a newbie but are you sure they had been debeaked? My RIR chicks have a little red color on their beaks. I assume a debeaked chick would be missing just a little bit of the end. I would also guess that debeaking would not cause blood loss.
  9. joanm

    joanm Songster

    May 13, 2007
    Quote:They were difinately debeaked on the upper...
  10. luvmychicknkids

    luvmychicknkids Canning Squirrel

    Mar 6, 2008
    Floresville, Texas
    Yes, debeaking definitely causes blood loss. That is why the large hatcheries use a machine that cauterizes as it cuts. It is a painful, brutal, procedure.

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