The British Egg Industry Council has written to MPs to outline why hens are beak trimmed and the potential welfare problems that a ban in 2016 could present.
The letter, which was sent to every MP, explains how layers are trimmed using a non-invasive infrared treatment, and that this is done to reduce injurious feather pecking and cannibalism. The letter has an attached background to the potential ban and images of beak-trimmed birds (see picture).
It also explains that industry introduced these measures without legislation and bears the cost, which it puts at 3-3.5p a hen or £1.02-1.19m a year overall. “This is a cost that industry could do without. However not beak trimming can have considerable hen welfare and economic implications,” says the letter.
It also explains that the BEIC is part of the DEFRA Beak Trimming Action Group, which is a group for interested parties to “develop and implement an action plan to inform the minister”.
“BTAG members have stressed that the primary consideration is to ensure that the welfare of laying hens is safeguarded.”
The letter ends saying that, if evidence shows a ban would be detrimental to the welfare of laying hens, then it “should be postponed, so that laying hen welfare can be safeguarded”.