14. & 15.
What happens in Europe? Countries differ, as you would expect. For example, the UK
industry is very light in tipping beaks, seeking only to prevent the hooked end of the beak
from causing injurious pecking. However, beak trimming is more severe elsewhere in the
EU which can cause some tenderness to young birds and leave them unwilling to take
water as touching the drinker can cause discomfort. Austria has already started phasing
out beak trimming,
with the backing of an insurance scheme to compensate farmers
who lose birds to cannibalism; their selective breeding has been largely successful in
minimizing damage. The Netherlands are bringing forward their proposed date for
introducing a ban to 2018.
So what’s the BHWT view? We would like to see an end to beak trimming, but not until
we are assured that large-scale welfare will not be compromised. Whilst it’s good that the
industry is now investing in research, this needs to be thorough and conclusive.
Alongside an eventual ban on beak trimming we would like to see flock management
improved, namely stocking density, diet, pullet rearing methods, light intensity, range
enrichment and human contact, all of which have their part to play in maintaining a
healthy, happy flock. Even playing radios can minimize stress, as can the introduction of
toys’ as explained by the farmer I spoke to.
The government will be reviewing the beak trimming ban next year, taking into account
conclusions of research and input from the Beak Trimming Action Group. We hope they
will have enough evidence to implement the ban in 2016, but if that is not the case and
the danger of injurious pecking remains a real threat, we would rather further research is
carried out to ensure hens do not suffer during their laying life because of a beak trimming
We believe it is the duty of industry and welfare bodies alike to ensure that this
welfare-driven ban can conclusively guarantee a better life for laying hens.
Beak Trimming