Beak trimming is a routine process for newly hatched chicks or when they are a few days old. When beak trimming is done very early, feather pecking may recur later and trimming has to be repeated. The trimming only reduces the efficiency of pecking and the damage. It should be done by trained staff when the birds are 7-10 days old as mistakes can be painful and increase the stress and suffering of birds
If too much beak is removed it can result in tumors and scarring of tissue. The beak is trimmed at an angle for one-third to one -fourth length of the upper beak and slightly less for the lower one to prevent this. Bleeding will occur if the trimming blade is not at the correct temperature or if the surroundings are too hot. Measures should be taken to reduce stress, loss of blood, weight and dehydration before, throughout and after beak trimming
Some useful tips to be followed before and after trimming are:
· Fresh, cold water should be kept ready for the birds to drink during summer and the trimming can be done in the early morning or late evening time.
· It is better to feed the birds first and check whether the feeders are emptied fully before trimming to avoid bleeding in some of the birds. The skin of the bleeding bird should be burnt with a heated instrument to stop bleeding and avoid further infection. Some empty bags can be kept in the feeders to act like cushions and give comfort.
· The feed should be increased considerably for one week after trimming.
· The birds should not be vaccinated, shifted or dewormed one week before and after trimming as this will increase the stress. To make sure that the vascular portion of beak is unaffected and prevent bleeding, the beaks of chicks can be rubbed on a hot blade and stopped when a metallic sound is heard. In adult birds with long or misaligned beaks, the best method and the length of trimming has to be decided first.
· The birds should be given extra doses of vitamin K and C @20mg per liter of water for 3 to 5 days after trimming
· The health of the birds and healing of scars, wounds have to be checked regularly after trimming and the procedure repeated a minimum 5 weeks before they are sexually mature if the beak regrows considerably.
· Antibiotics like oxytetracycline can be given to the birds to manage diseases and stress due to them.