In recent years, making beak treatments performed on broiler breeders obsolete has been a hot topic at Roxell. This resulted in the recent launch of the innovative concept, Natural Beak Smoothing. Roxell answers 5 questions about this durable solution, the new market trends and animal welfare regulations.
Roxell has been developing feeding systems for poultry and pigs for 50 years. So we have witnessed the scale of the sector increase all over the world. Poultry farmers approach Roxell, and continue to do so, because they want to invest in growth and efficiency to meet a rising demand for meat. Over recent years we have seen that the awareness of animal welfare among all players in the sector has indeed increased around the world. The poultry industry has never been more ready to adopt solutions that improve animal welfare. Roxell is extremely pleased about this. However, Roxell has always focused on animal welfare. This is because healthy, stress-free animals grow better and farmers obtain a better yield from their work. Our innovation department takes the view that nature should be used as a reference for developing new feeding solutions. For instance, pigs are truly social animals that naturally enjoy living and eating together. That is why Roxell developed a round feeder pan that promotes social behaviour among pigs. Another example of an animal-friendly solution is Natural Beak Smoothing. A year after the launch of this product, the poultry sector confirmed it to be the perfect alternative to traditional painful beak treatments.
Standards for animal welfare vary greatly from one country to another. Mechanical ‘hot blade’ debeaking and infrared beak treatment have been banned in a quarter of EU countries and the practices have also been banned in Australia. Other countries are working on banning beak treatments on broiler breeders and commercial layers. The list of countries with bans in place will only increase in the near future. However, irrespective of the legislation, retailers around the world are also increasingly adapting their standards for eggs. “Animal-friendly” has become an important label.
This transition to a scenario without beak treatment sometimes occurs rather suddenly. Poultry farmers’ concerns about feather pecking and cannibalism among chickens are again very real. Roxell has met this specific demand in the market with Natural Beak Smoothing. It is an economical alternative for beak treatments and complies with the legislation on animal welfare.
Natural Beak Smoothing is a solution that we incorporate in our existing oval feeder pans for broiler breeders – Vitoo, KiXoo and Boozzter. The bottom of the feeder pan has been fitted with a rough, structured base made from metal. Each time the chickens eat, the beaks rub against the rough structure of the bottom pan. As a result, the beak growth is controlled naturally and the chickens develop well-rounded beaks. It was tested intensively for 2 years before being launched. We wanted to be sure that we could commercialise an effective and sustainable solution. And we were successful, as it now turns out.
Of course, traditional beak treatments are no longer necessary when you use Natural Beak Smoothing. These methods are quite labour intensive, time consuming and have recurrent costs. So, abolishing these methods brings immediate benefits to farmers or hatcheries. But that is not all. Chickens will no longer pick their feathers and will be less prone to stress and infection. This easily reduces chicken mortality by 2%. We also see a better uniformity in the houses with Natural Beak Smoothing. The health of young chicks doesn’t decline after beak treatment. The general health of the animals is better and more consistent. Ultimately, fertility is higher, which means more eggs and more one-day chicks per hen. It also saves feed. Since the beaks are nicely rounded, there is less food wastage. We have results demonstrating that you can save up to 3 grams of feed per bird per day. When taken together, the cost saving and additional yield mean that you can easily recoup the investment in Natural Beak Smoothing in 2 years. Depending on your situation, it could even be sooner.
The Roxell innovation team was fully responsible for the development of Natural Beak Smoothing. We also involved the breeding companies Aviagen, Hubbard and Cobb during testing. The product is available throughout the world and can also be ordered from any Roxell distributor. For more information, you can also contact Roxell. Alternatively, visit our website and see the references and videos.