Almost 600,000 laying hens in Lower Saxony, Germany, have been included in applications for a new initiative to improve bird welfare, which also includes measures to end beak-trimming.
According to the agriculture minister of Lower Saxony, Christian Meyer, some 250 farmers in the German region have applied to join the scheme, giving a clear signal of their engagement in improving animal welfare.
The initiative aims to bring an end to beak-trimming of hens and tail docking in pigs. Applications cover nearly 600,000 layers and well over 115,000 finishing pigs from the conventional and organic sectors.
Egg farms accepted on to the scheme will receive a premium of €1.70 for each hen with an intact beak and additional space.
Small- and medium-sized businesses have been particularly attracted to the deal, Meyer said, adding that €950,000 will be taken up by the poultry sector this year. It is foreseen that the scheme will continue in future years, with a larger budget, aiming to bring about continuous improvement in animal welfare.
As well as ending beak-trimming and reducing stocking density, participating farms will be required to undergo additional training and advice.
The Agriculture Chamber is currently reviewing the applications and, by the end of December this year, the first non-beak-trimmed birds will qualify for payment.
Source: Poultry World