The practices of dubbing and beak trimming to poultry are prohibited in schools.

Beak trimming

Beak trimming is a practice carried out when birds are kept in intensive conditions to reduce the chance of injury when birds peck at other birds. As schools are no longer permitted to keep hens in battery cages, without SACEC written permission, the need for beak trimming is reduced. The incidences of pecking should be managed by appropriate penning in more extensive systems.


Dubbing is carried out most commonly to male birds of Old English Game, Modern Game and Australian Pit Game breeds, where the birds are shown. The SACEC has decided that the practice is outdated, unnecessary and inhumane and has prohibited it from being carried out in schools. Schools are encouraged to keep and show other breeds of poultry.

Wing clipping

Wing clipping involves trimming the primary feathers of adult birds’ wings to prevent them from flying. Sharp shears can be used to trim off ONLY the first ten flight feathers of ONE wing. This causes the bird to lack adequate balance to be able to fly. A very experienced person should only carry out this procedure and inexperienced students should never do it unassisted as incorrect wing clipping can result in pain and severe injury to the bird. Wing clipping will allow birds to be kept in a pen or run without a roof, as they will not be able to fly out.

Image: Wing clipping involves trimming the primary feathers of adult birds’ wings to prevent them from flying.

Leg banding

Leg bands can be used for identification of birds. The school farm may use different coloured leg bands to identify birds born each year. Leg bands must be check regularly and loosened appropriately or removed if they begin to become too tight. Legs bands that become too tight can cause pain and severe injury to birds.

Spur trimming

The spurs on roosters may need to be trimmed if they become long and begin to affect the rooster's gait or are long enough to cause injury in the event of an attack. The rooster needs to be restrained by one person with another using sharp shears or clippers to take the point and desired length from the spur. Care should be taken to only remove the end section that does not have a blood supply.

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