The effect of infrared beak treatment on the welfare of turkeys reared to 12 weeks of age

S Struthers, Timothy Fiss, Henry L Classen, Susantha Gomis, Ryan Dickinson, Trever G Crowe, Eugenia Herwig, Karen Schwean-Lardner*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This study aimed to determine the effects of infrared beak treatment on the behavior and welfare of male and female turkeys reared to 12 wk of age. To do this, poults (236 males and 324 females) were assigned to one of 2 beak treatments: infrared beak treated on day of hatch (IR) or sham untreated control (C). Data collected included heterophil/lymphocyte (H/L) ratio, pecking force, feather cover, behavioral expression, and beak histology. Data were analyzed as a 2 × 2 factorial of beak treatment and gender, in a completely randomized design and analyzed using PROC MIXED (SAS 9.4). H/L ratio (indicative of a stress response) did not differ between treated and control poults during early life, except at 20 d of age when H/L ratio was higher for C poults than IR poults. Pecking force, measured as a method of monitoring pain, was different only at 1 wk of age, when IR poults pecked with more force than C poults. Feather cover was better in IR poults at 12 wk of age. Differences in behavior between treatments were minor over the 12-wk period. Overall, infrared beak treatment of commercial turkeys had minimal negative impacts on behavior and welfare. The results suggest that stress may be reduced in flocks that are beak treated and that the procedure itself does not cause a pain response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101728
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jan 2022
Publication statusPrint publication - 1 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • beak
  • beak shape
  • behavior
  • histology
  • turkey poult


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