Grün, S., Damme, K., Müller, M. et al. 2021. Welfare and performance of three turkey breeds—Comparison between infrared beak treatment and natural beak abrasion by pecking on a screed grinding wheel. Animals 11(8), 2395.
Feather pecking and cannibalism are behavioral disorders that cause animal-welfare-relevant and economic problems. To mitigate these problems, the beaks of conventionally reared turkeys are usually already trimmed in the hatcheries. To find an alternative to beak trimming, we conducted this study with male turkeys of three breeds: B.U.T. 6, B.U.T. Premium and, Auburn (200 turkeys per breed). Half of the birds had infrared-trimmed beaks; the other half had intact beaks. For each treatment combination (breed, beak status), 25 turkeys were housed in one section. A screed grinding wheel was installed in each feed pan of the non-beak-trimmed turkeys as of week six to facilitate natural beak abrasion until slaughter. Eight randomly selected turkeys per section were regularly examined to record injuries, plumage condition, and beak dimensions. In addition, 96 beaks from randomly slaughtered birds were examined macroscopically and histologically. The results concerning injuries and plumage condition showed in most cases no differences between the beak-trimmed turkeys and the ones provided with the blunting disks. The histological examinations revealed alterations in only the beak-trimmed birds. We can conclude that the blunting method smoothens the beak during feeding and thus may be a possible alternative to beak trimming.