Debeaking, also called beak trimming is the partial removal of the beak of poultry, especially chickens and turkeys. Most commonly, the beak is shortened permanently, although regrowth can occur. The trimmed lower beak is somewhat longer than the upper beak. USA's UEP guidelines suggest that in egg laying strains of chickens, the length of the upper beak distal from the nostrils which remains following trimming, should be 2 to 3 mm. The term debeaking implies that the entire beak is removed during the trimming process, though in reality only half or less of the beak is removed
In some countries, such as the United States, beak trimming is common in egg-laying strains of chickens and turkeys as a preventive measure to reduce the incidence of cannibalism and improve livability. However, commercial broiler chickens are not routinely beak trimmed due to their docile nature. In some countries, beak trimming is done as a last resort where alternatives are considered not to be possible or appropriate.
they just make the beaks less pointy so they don't hurt eachother (something more likely to happen in a corporate cage operation. For backyard flocks, usually un-necessary... Cruel? I think that's for everyone to decide on their own, I wouldn't do it to my chickens unless it was absolutely required.
Ew, I don't know how anyone else views 'cruel,' but I for one would never do it to my chickens. I would try everything else that I could before that...but yes, like the others have said, debeaking is when they clip off the top part of their beak so they don't peck at each other. Which they wouldn't do in the first place, as long as they weren't crowded.
Did they come that way? Or were you given the option of it being done?