United Poultry Concerns September 25, 2007

Debeaking- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

An article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette posted on September 22, 2007 talks about a poultry researcher's proposal to develop terminology that hides the truth about cruel farming practices like debeaking. He suggests calling it "beak conditioning."  Below is the link and the letter UPC President Karen Davis wrote to reporter David Irvin, who said he's received an unusually large response. Unfortunately the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette doesn't print out of state letters, but if you're in Arkansas, please post a letter. Thank you.


Karen Davis to David Irvin re: "Control debate, growers advised," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 9/22/07.

Dear Mr. Irvin:

You wrote interestingly about a poultry researcher's interest in euphemizing certain terms in order to hide from the public what those terms actually refer to. As for debeaking, it was established by veterinarians in the 1960s that beak trimming is a painful surgery because the beak of a bird is filled with nerves including pain receptors, physical impact receptors, and temperature receptors to the very tip of the beak.

According to the book Beak Trimming edited by Philip Glatz (2005), "The trigeminal ganglia, the site of the first order of sensory neurons that innervate the face and beak, develop when the embryo is two days old" (p. 47).

Commercial Chicken Meat and Egg Production edited by Bell & Weaver (2002) says: "The integument of the chicken (skin and accessory structures, e.g., the beak) contains many sensory receptors of several types allowing perception of touch (both moving stimuli and pressure stimuli), cold, heat, and noxious (painful or unpleasant) stimulation. The beak has concentrations of touch receptors forming specialized beak tip organs which give the bird sensitivity for manipulation and assessment of objects. Beak trimming deprives the bird of normal sensory evaluation of objects when using the beak" (p. 80).

There's more, including the fact that animal scientists Ian Duncan and Michael Gentle state that evidence indicates debeaking can result in phantom limb pain even after the wounded beak has healed. Anyway, I wanted to respond to your article and would have sent a letter to the editor except that the newspaper doesn't take letters from out of state readers, unfortunately.

Thank you for your attention and please feel free to contact me at any time for additional information. Information about debeaking can be found on our website at


Karen Davis, PhD, President
United Poultry Concerns
12325 Seaside Road, PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405
Phone: 757-678-7875

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

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