NFU Conference 2014: Government aims for beak trim ban in hens

DEFRA farm minister George Eustace has confirmed that the government is keen to ban beak trimming in layers from 2016, if at all practical.

Egg producer and NFU delegate Alan Warrington asked the minister what his intentions were and warned that a ban would be to the detriment of bird welfare.

In response, Mr Eustace pointed to the ongoing beak trimming trials by Bristol University and the industry which would inform the decision.

“The position of the government is clear,” he told the NFU annual conference. “Our starting point is that we would like to proceed to a ban on beak trimming in 2016.

“But the reason we are doing these pilots is that we want to see whether that’s practical. We will look carefully at the evidence once those trials have concluded.”

See also For a full report from the NFU annual conference – including the views of 2 Sisters director Ranjit Singh – see the next issue of Poultry World.

It is understood that Prof Christine Nichol of Bristol University, who is overseeing the trials and was due to address poultry producers at the conference, pulled out a fortnight before, under instruction from DEFRA, so as not to prejudice any outcomes.

One of the larger trial flocks experienced a breakdown last October, with 25% mortality, and had to be emergency beak-trimmed.