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Mums planning to debeak hens with with soldering iron- I am horrified!

28 replies

Stickwithit · 04/05/2011 15:53

My mum has five chickens. Three of them are pecking the other two horribly. They have barely any feathers left and their kin looks so sore.

She feels she has tried everything: treatment for mites (antibiotics from vet), making their (large) run more interesting to alleviate any boredom (branches, hiding places, cabbages hanging from string); isolating the trouble makers, isolating the pecked hens.

Nothing has worked, as soon as they are reunited the pecking starts again.

Our local farmer has suggested blunting their beaks with a soldering iron! He claims if done carefully, and if only the end of the beaks are done this won?t hurt them and will make their beaks less sharp. Mums claims she has contacted her vet who has said it is an old fashioned but effective strategy!!

I can?t believe this- surely its barbaric.

Has anyone done this or heard of this being done outside of battery situations? Is it ok?

OP posts:
bamboobutton · 04/05/2011 15:57

they usually clip beaks but im not sure how it's done. surely a beak is like a nail and they won't feel a thing??

the chickens i bought had clipped beaks.

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows · 04/05/2011 16:00

I wouldn't risk it personally. The hens won't stand obediently still while you apply a soldering iron to their beak. You can buy bumpa bits, which fit to the hens beak and stop them being able to peck and damage.

colditz · 04/05/2011 16:01

Why on earth is it barbaric? Would it be barbaric to singe very long fingernails?

As long as she's careful, the hens should be fine.

Stickwithit · 04/05/2011 16:25

Thanks all. I somehow thought that the beak would have some nerve endings within it somewhere and that they could get twinged by the soldering iron.

I will look into the bumpa bits.

OP posts:
Eglu · 04/05/2011 16:29

Bumpa bits are not expensive and a lot less barbaric than chopping half the beak off. Totally unnecessarily cruel imo.

ilovemyhens · 04/05/2011 18:05

The beak does have nerve endings and doing this to them will result in agony. De-beaking is very cruel and I can't believe somebody would do this Angry I don't think the RSPCA would be too impressed either.

ilovemyhens · 04/05/2011 18:10

I have had one hen rehomed due to her persistant pecking. Your mother should do that instead. Find them somewhere larger where they can roam. Some hens also need a cockerel to keep them in order. If she can't have them rehomed then they'd be better off being humanely destroyed.

Local farmers can't be trusted to give proper advice either. They're not vets and some of them have very dubious practises.

TrinityRhino · 04/05/2011 18:14

seperate them


dont debeak them, their beaks are not the same as fingernails

have they been clipped, surely you realise that you cant just keep clipping, same as beaks, they have nerve endings and it will hurt

seperate them or rehome them

dont be nasty to them

ilovemyhens · 04/05/2011 18:15

debeaking causes acute pain

I feel really angry about this. You should take the offending hens from her and call the RSPCA or a local animal shelter to have them rehomed. I can't believe she's even considering this. The farmer should have the same done to his testicles and see how he likes it Angry

Chickens are not always easy animals to keep, but resorting to practices like this is just sheer madness.

PaisleyLeaf · 04/05/2011 18:16

How do you make sure you don't solder the beak shut?

ilovemyhens · 04/05/2011 18:22

The poor animals will be terrified and in acute pain. That's if she doesn't have their eyes out when they're flapping and moving around Sad

Tell her to either get a cockerel or go onto the Down the Lane forum and some of the people there might be able to help rehome them. I have pals there and my mad orpington went to one chap there. They're nice people and will try to help, but please don't let her do this.

ilovemyhens · 04/05/2011 18:24

down the lane forum

My orpie has calmed right down now she's with a cockerel.

Punkatheart · 04/05/2011 18:34

Good God! Horrified by this. There are plenty of other ways other than this cruel way. Anti-pecking spray, free-ranging, even bumper bits. As someone has mentioned, the RSPCA would get involved if she does this...

UnSerpentQuiCourt · 04/05/2011 21:54

There are nerve endings in the beak, but not at the tip, which is all you remove. The finger nail analogy is good. Sadly, some chickens have downright nasty personalities. These, traditionally, made soup.

ilovemyhens · 04/05/2011 22:16

I don't think DIY surgery with a soldering iron will be able to manage that level of accuracy and determine where the nerves even begin Hmm

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows · 04/05/2011 22:22

Beak clipping can be achieved with nail clippers, if all you're doing is removing an overly long upper beak. I've done that when I've had birds that couldn't eat because their beak was too long. However, it is stressful and I'm only taking excess beak away. I think the stress to the birds, and the likelihood of getting it right and not hurting them, means that the soldering iron should be forgotten about tbh. Rehome them if they're causing mayhem and there's nothing more humane to try.

ilovemyhens · 04/05/2011 22:25

I've clipped budgie beaks due to overgrowth, but the overgrowth is very thin and it's easy to see that it's different from the main beak.

rosatstudiolambert · 04/05/2011 22:52

Your mum has probably tried this already, but has she had a go at changing their feed? Feather pecking can sometimes be fixed by increasing protein levels.

Also, for some strange reason, chickens go a bit insane when they draw blood. I've no idea why... but once a bird is cut the others will keep pecking away at it. When your mum separates them she should wait until they are fully healed and feathered before reintroducing them. And it's a good idea to try and reintroduce them to the others in stages - maybe introduce them to one of the bullies first, and then bring in the next two after that. The reason for this is because there is a pecking order and newcomers to a group will always get aggro for a while.

Otherwise... a cockerel might sort them out!

colditz · 05/05/2011 08:10

There are nerve ending in a dogs claw but that doesn't mean you can't trim their claws if you're careful.

the operative word being careful

Oakmaiden · 05/05/2011 08:17

My mum's hens were vicious feather pluckers, she changed the ratio of corn to mash (feeding less corn and more mash) and they calmed down a lot.

I think they were looking for the protein in feathers.

Stickwithit · 05/05/2011 10:36

Thank you all for replying. I am sorry that I have upset some of you who feel that it would be a cruel thing to do and I do appreciate your input.

I myself was worried about mum doing this, which is why I posted for advice. It might seem silly but I was not sure if it was OK or not- shoeing a horse looks like it should hurt, (red hot shoe and nails), but it doesn't, so I thought maybe I was being naive.

I have called mum and told her that I have been advised that this is a very bad idea. I have suggested she looks into rehoming the hens who are pecking. She was a bit huffy TBH but I am pretty sure she won't do it now and I will be calling her later to offer help in rehoming.

Many thanks again.

OP posts:
ilovemyhens · 05/05/2011 22:34

Okay, glad to hear she's not going to do this. Well done for helping her with the rehoming.

saltyseadog · 05/05/2011 22:55

There was a recent campaign by Chicken Out to get the EEC law changed on beak trimming (standard practice for batts :( ). Worth a look at their website if your mum needs further convincing. Apols if someone has already linked to it - I'm on my phone :).

MissBeehivingBlardySwarms · 07/05/2011 08:12

Clipping/filing back the overgrowth on a beak is a totally different thing to debeaking (also confusingly called beak trimming).

I trim/file my chickens beaks and nails - taking off small amount of excess growth. Mine are used to it, and don't worry about it but then I wash and blow dry them and they have been known to go to sleep. Smile

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows · 07/05/2011 11:23

Miss, my girls fall asleep being blow dried! Grin Usually while laying on a towel in front of 'Eastenders'.

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