Physical Alterations

The ASPCA opposes physical alterations of farm animals in cases where proper husbandry techniques negate their necessity. These techniques include using suitable breeds, decreasing stocking density and otherwise improving husbandry. Until physical alterations are eliminated, they must include appropriate pain prevention and relief. The ASPCA encourages research into alternatives to physical alterations of farm animals.

Debeaking Chickens and Turkeys – The ASPCA opposes the practice of debeaking (also called “beak trimming”) and recommends the use of husbandry techniques and breed selection that eliminate the feather pecking and cannibalism that debeaking aims to prevent. Proper husbandry techniques include providing birds with adequate space and enrichment so as to alleviate the underlying motivations for injurious pecking. Further, the ASPCA supports research into less invasive alternatives to debeaking such as beak blunting. Until debeaking is eliminated, debeaking must include appropriate analgesia, and be performed only by those who are properly trained, properly monitored and using proper equipment

Castration of Pigs and Cattle – Standard castration practices – both surgical and non-surgical – cause acute pain and distress, and sometimes chronic pain. Therefore, the ASPCA believes that in all cases where proper husbandry can resolve the underlying reason for castrating, it should be employed. To this end, the ASPCA supports further research on ways to utilize appropriate animal handling and management methods to address the behavior issues that sometimes necessitate castration. Until castration is eliminated, best practices must be employed, including effective pain control and proper handling to minimize distress, and further research should be done on immunocastration and non-painful, non-invasive methods of castration that do not have negative side effects.

Tail Docking of Pigs and Cattle – The ASPCA opposes docking – or removing – the tails of pigs, and cattle. Tail docking is a painful and stressful practice that may cause long-term pain as well. It aims to address behavioral problems and/or hygiene concerns that arise as a result of the conditions in factory-like and overcrowded industrial farms. Such concerns should instead be addressed through improved animal husbandry. The only acceptable reason to tail dock cattle is for treatment of injuries or medical conditions, in which case it should be performed as soon as possible and must include appropriate analgesia. Until tail docking is eliminated and replaced by proper husbandry, it must be carried out using best possible practices, including appropriate analgesia, and within 3 days of age for pigs.