The effect of toe trimming on production characteristics of heavy turkey toms

Fournier J, Schwean-Lardner K, Knezacek TD, Gomis S, Classen HL

Trimming the 3 anterior toes on both feet at day of hatch to remove the claws, reduce bird scratching, and improve carcass grades is a common practice in the turkey industry. Changes in the method of trimming and the growth potential of turkeys since the majority of research on this topic was completed motivated this study with the objective of establishing the effects of microwave toe treatment on production characteristics of tom turkeys. Turkey toms (306 in total) were either toe trimmed at the hatchery using a microwave claw processor (T) or were sham treated only (NT). Poults were randomly assigned to 1 of 9 replicate pens for each treatment. Average BW, feed consumption, and feed efficiency were determined from BW and feed intake measured by pen on d 0, 7, 21, 42, 56, 70, 91, 126, and 140. On d 140, toms were sent to a commercial processing facility where 5 carcasses from each pen were examined for scratching and other externally visible damage. Average BW was higher for NT toms on d 91, 126, and 140, with final weights of 21.70 and 21.15 kg for NT and T birds, respectively. The T birds had lower feed consumption than their NT counterparts during the first and last week of production, but feed efficiency was unaffected. Carcass scratching (T, 13.33% of carcasses scratched vs. NT, 15.56%) and other carcass damages were not affected by treatment. Although overall mortality was not affected by treatment, the incidence of mortality due to skeletal causes, especially rotated tibia, was increased in T toms. Negative effects on performance and no effect on carcass quality suggest that toe trimming may not be required or recommended for heavy tom turkeys.

Link to Pubmed

Posted in 2014 Publications, Publications.