Teeth and beak clipping are common practices in the pork, chicken (meat), and egg industries. Pigs have their teeth clipped and chickens have their beaks clipped to prevent the animals from attacking and “cannibalising” one another due to the confining and disgusting environment they are forced to live in. Teeth and beak clipping are known to make the wounds more prone to infection.
Pigs are remarkably intelligent animals — numerous studies put their IQ’s higher than that of dogs — and when denied their natural need to play in mud, have social communication with their peers, or even be able to turn around, they become agitated and are literally driven insane. They begin to pick on each other, bite each other’s tails, and even kill and eat each other. Cannibalism in pigs is not normal in the wild, however in factory farms it is commonplace because of their inability to perform their most basic behaviors and attend to their most basic needs.
Chickens are highly social animals and are far more intelligent than most give them credit for. When cramped in battery cages and large, poorly ventilated warehouses, chickens begin to peck at each other in their frustration. In the wild, chickens use their beaks for many important functions including preening, eating, and exploring their environment. A chicken’s beak serves the same function as a human’s hands. When we deny a chicken the ability to enjoy the use of his or her beak, we are denying them the ability to experience and explore the world around them.
Teeth and beak clipping is excruciating. Like other animals with teeth (including humans), pigs teeth contain pain-sensing nerves. When their teeth are cut these pain sensing nerves are triggered and the pig experiences intense pain, like any of us would. Chickens beaks are composed of cartilage and nerve tissue, and are also capable of feeling acute pain. When beaks are cut with a hot blade or laser they experience pain. It seems so obvious, but because it is not our own pain it becomes easy to dismiss. When we put ourselves in their place and imagine what it would be like if this was happening to us it becomes much easier to imagine what their pain must feel like. Fortunately for us, we only have to imagine. For pigs and chickens, they must endure this every day for as long as people consume meat and eggs.