Implications of toe clipping on the welfare of commercial turkeys

Principal Investigator

Hank Classen, University of Saskatchewan

Year the work was done


Overall objective

  • To determine the impact of toe trimming hen and turkey toms on bird welfare, performance and carcass grades at processing.


  • Results from the hen trials showed no differences between the trimmed and untrimmed groups with respect to growth rate, feed consumption or feed efficiency. Overall mortality did not differ, nor did cause of mortality.
  • Carcass scratches observed at the processing plant were considerably higher for the untrimmed birds than for the trimmed birds. Toe-trimmed poults were less active at 3 days of age, which is perhaps an indication of pain or discomfort.
  • A similar, although not statistically significant, effect was seen at 5 days of age, but later behavioural observation (7 and 13 weeks of age) did not show treatment effects. Toe trimming of tom turkeys caused a reduction in feed consumption from 126 to 140 days of age, and a negative effect on body weight late in the production period. The reasons for these effects are not know, but examination of other response criteria that have not yet been collected, verified or statistically analyzed may provide some explanation.
  • Data related to toe trimming have been collected on one commercial farm and other farms have been identified for future data collection.


  • An objective assessment of the benefits and potential welfare implications of toe trimming will help the turkey industry evaluate the practice.

This research applies to


This research was supported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.