Home About Roxell News Natural Beak Smoothing, a sustainable solution for German poultry farmers

Natural Beak Smoothing, a sustainable solution for German poultry farmers
31-05-2017

In 2015, Böckermann and Roxell joined forces to test the new feeding concept for broiler breeders: Natural Beak Smoothing. The results of the test phase were impressive. After 11 weeks, there was no longer any difference in shape between the IR trimmed beaks and the beaks subjected to Natural Beak Smoothing.  

Since 1 January 2017 there has been a ban in Germanyon treating the beaks of commercial layers and broiler breeders. Beak treatment is a preventive measure to reduce damage caused by pecking, thereby improving livability of the birds and uniformity of the flock. For many poultry farmers beak treatment is a necessary evil that entails a number of risks.

However, a number of German poultry farmers have struggled with the beak trimming ban.Untreated birds have long, sharp beaks, which increases the risk of cannibalism and results in more feed waste because of the shape of the beak.Markus and Doreen Böckermann were among those who started to look for a sustainable, efficient solution.

Introducing Böckermann

Markus and Doreen started their breeder farm 20 years ago.  "The plan was to produce broilers but that idea was shelved in consultation with Integration because of the need for high-quality breeders," says Markus.With a broiler breeder house you have to pay greater attention to the birds. To promote the uniformity of each flock, bird selection is scheduled at 5 weeks. Smaller birds are separated out based on their weight. "So we monitor each bird and focus on result-oriented rearing," adds Doreen.

New houses were built in 2009 and 2011. Today, the farm accommodates over 86,000 birds in 5 houses for a rearing period of 19 weeks. The houses were installed with Vitoo feeding circuits and the Sparknipple drinking system. Markus made a conscious decision to choose Roxell's pan feeding system: "Many poultry farmers opt for a chain feeding system, but we are convinced of the added value of the Roxell system. With Roxell's broiler breeder concept, the birds are fed simultaneously which has a positive impact on the uniformity of the birds and their eating behavior. Chain systems go much slower, you have to press a button and wait until the feed has been distributed, which can cause stress in the birds."

Ban on beak trimming in Germany

In 2015, Böckermann and Roxell joined forces to test the new feeding concept for broiler breeders: Natural Beak Smoothing. During feeding, the breeders' beak growth is continuously controlled by a rough structure in the Vitoo bottom pan. This new solution guarantees bird productivity, saves feed, and complies with animal welfare regulations. Markus previously used the two known methods for beak trimming: mechanical 'hot blade debeaking' and later infrared trimming in the hatchery.

When the debate on the beak-trimming ban started, Markus and Doreen started to look for sustainable, efficient solutions. In consultation with the Roxell innovation team, one house was divided into small compartments, and in one of these compartments 12 Vitoo bottom pans were replaced by a prototype of the Natural Beak Smoothing pan for 100 broiler breeders.

"The rough structure in the inner pan quickly resulted in a natural beak smoothing," says Markus Böckermann. The test showed that the beak touches both the inner and the outer pan of the feeding system.In a subsequent prototype the rough structure was therefore widened to the outside of the bottom pan, which gave optimum results. In the second flock, comparative tests of the Natural Beak Smoothing concept for untreated birds versus a standard feeding system for treated birds were carried out.

The results of the test phase were impressive After 11 weeks, there was no longer any difference in shape between the IR trimmed beaks and the beaks subjected to Natural Beak Smoothing. But the figures spoke for themselves: 2% less mortality compared to the treated birds.  

In short, Natural Beak Smoothing is an efficient solution for both the poultry farmer and the broiler breeders. The birds are not exposed to stress or infections due to break trimming. The growth of the beak is kept under control while they eat and there is no need for selection at 5 weeks because there is good uniformity.

Cleaning the system?

"During the first tests we noticed some corrosion on the metal structure in the pan, but this disappeared immediately when the new flock was started. Cleaning the feeding system is just as easy as before. Only now we are alert to chemicals that could damage the metal structure in the long term," Doreen explains.

The future of Böckermann

In December 2016 we switched all our houses to Natural Beak Smoothing. All we had to do was to change the bottom pan. But Markus and Doreen still have high ambitions. They secretly dream of running their own production house and hope their farm will be continued by their children when they are grown. Whatever the future brings, the Böckermann farm will serve as a benchmark not only for Roxell but for the entire German poultry industry.

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