News 1 commentupdate:Mar 9, 2016

Scottish minister deems beak trimming ban unrealistic

A ban on beak trimming in England from 1 January 2016 is “almost certainly unrealistic”, according to Scottish rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead.

In a letter to the Scottish Egg Producer Retailers' Association (Sepra), Lochhead explains that, while animal welfare is a devolved issue, with each region of the UK making its own decisions on the matter, the Scottish government is represented on the Beak Trimming Action Group.

This body is currently overseeing two research projects into beak trimming (one by Scotland's Rural College and one by Bristol University), and will advise Defra when it conducts its review next year, ahead of a proposed ban in 2016.

"The research still needs to be completed and fully analysed; however, we are aware of the injuries on some of the units being studied," he said in his letter. "I understand that currently the feeling within the group is that a ban in 2016 is almost certainly unrealistic."

Lochhead added that it would not be appropriate for him to try and influence decisions taken by Defra for English producers.

"However, since the majority of laying hens in Scotland are currently supplied from hatcheries in England, we would need to consider the implications for the supply of beak-trimmed birds to Scotland if a ban was to be proposed in England."

Roy Kerr of Sepra said this could raise real trade issues, as a ban on beak trimming in England would amount to a de facto ban on Scotland and Wales too, unless a derogation was passed allowing beak trimming in England for producers across the borders. Failing that, Scottish and Welsh producers might have to import beak-trimmed chicks from Ireland or France.

Source: Poultry World

Philip Clarke

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