Beak morphology of infrared beak treated laying hens and its impact on production and welfare

Cara Hughes, S Struthers, Tory Shynkaruk, Susantha Gomis, Ashish Gupta, Karen Schwean-Lardner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Despite previous research on the impacts of beak treatment on laying hens, little information exists regarding how variation in beak morphology that can occur following beak treatment affects production, behavior, and welfare. Following infrared beak treatment (IRBT), variations in beak shape, such as a shovel beak (bottom beak longer than top), cracks (Cr), or bubbles (B) may occur if the IRBT equipment is damaged or if a quality control program is not followed at the hatchery. This study aimed to determine if variations in beak morphology post-IRBT impacted laying hen production or welfare. Infrared beak-treated Lohmann LSL-Lite hens (n = 80) were selected from a 56-wk-old flock and randomly assigned into 1 of 8 treatments: flush beak (control), shovel beak extending 0–1 mm (SB0-1), 1–2 mm (SB1-2), 2–3 mm (SB2-3), 3–4 mm (SB3-4), or >4 mm (SB > 4), Cr, or B. Hens were housed in individual cages for 4 wk and production (body weight, feed intake, egg production, and egg quality), and welfare (behavior and histology) parameters were evaluated. Consumption of different particle sizes was assessed by measuring feed particle size of refused feed. Data were analyzed as a one-way ANOVA, in a completely randomized design using PROC GLM (SAS 9.4). The results indicated that the beak morphologies examined had minimal effects on the production or welfare of the hens. Histological assessment did not show the presence of neuromas in the beak tissue, suggesting that the hens were not experiencing chronic pain from the IRBT procedure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1395-1399
Number of pages5
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPrint publication - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • beak shape
  • beak treatment
  • behavior
  • body weight
  • shovel beak
  • Animal Welfare
  • Animals
  • Ovum/physiology
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Beak/anatomy & histology
  • Female
  • Chickens/anatomy & histology


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