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Ban on beak trimming postponed until 2016

News Section Icon Published 08/11/2010

Following Defra's decision to postpone the ban on beak trimming of egg laying hens to at least 2016, Compassion in World Farming will be stepping up its campaign to urge the Government to end this practice for good and to see this date written into the revised law.

In part thanks to huge pressure from our supporters, the practice of hot blade beak trimming will be outlawed from 2011.  However, beak trimming using infra-red technology will still be allowed.  Whilst Compassion is delighted at the ban on hot blade beak trimming, millions of chicks per year will still endure this painful mutilation using infra-red technology.

Beak trimming was banned in the UK in 2002, with the ban scheduled to come into force on 1st January 2011.  Despite a generous phase out period of 8 years, Compassion believes that the egg industry failed to make itself ready for the 2011 deadline.  Now the egg industry must take immediate action to implement alternatives to beak trimming, which already exist.

Case studies prove beak trimming can be phased out successfully

Prior to the Government's announcement, Compassion in World Farming conducted detailed case studies of laying hen systems in the UK and Austria which have phased out, or are successfully phasing out, beak trimming without any increase in feather pecking or injurious pecking.

These studies show that beak trimming can be avoided without increased feather pecking or injurious pecking by such measures as good rearing, suitable breed, high protein nutrition with phased feeding and the provision of aerial perches. In free-range systems, good foraging opportunities are also very helpful.

Peter Stevenson, Compassion's Chief Policy Advisor, said:

"Defra's assurance that they will work towards ending beak trimming by 2016 is encouraging but I am deeply disappointed with their decision to repeal the ban on beak trimming without setting a new legally binding date for the ban to come into force.

"It is frustrating that the egg industry has not managed to meet the 2011 deadline.  At the same time as the British industry has been failing to phase out beak trimming, the Austrian industry has successfully reduced the practice so that now less than 2% of hens are beak trimmed.

"Beak trimming has traditionally been carried out to prevent feather pecking and cannibalism.  However, scientific research shows that the correct way to prevent these problems is to keep hens in good conditions and to select for birds that are less prone to feather pecking and cannibalism."

Ending beak trimming for good

Compassion has run a year long campaign against beak trimming and has generated a substantial body of support against this practice from the general public.

We are launching a fresh appeal to supporters this week, to see an end to beak trimming in the UK for good.

Please support our work with a donation to end the mutilation of chicks and help us continue the fight against farm animal suffering.


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If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).