Poultry: Animal Welfare

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 14th January 2010.

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Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Shadow Secretary of State for Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether it remains his policy to introduce a ban on beak trimming of laying hens in 2011.

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Farming and the Environment)

The Government have accepted further advice from The Farm Animal Welfare Council, an independent advisory body, that a complete ban on beak trimming of laying hens should not be introduced from 1 January 2011 (as is currently in legislation), but should be deferred until it can be demonstrated reliably under commercial conditions that laying hens can be managed without beak trimming, without a greater risk to their welfare than that caused by beak trimming itself. The Government want to reduce the number of procedures that are defined in legislation as 'mutilations' and protect the welfare of laying hens, but a balance has to be struck between reducing the number of procedures carried out and ensuring that the birds do not suffer worse welfare insults, such as feather pecking and cannibalism.

The Government will shortly issue a consultation on proposed amendments to the Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) Regulations 2007 (as amended) to remove the total ban on beak trimming, to allow for routine beak trimming of day-old chicks intended for laying to be done using the infra-red technique only.

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