Compassion in World Farming, an animal welfare group is urging DEFRA not to extend the scheduled deadline for banning beak trimming in young poultry beyond 1 January 2011.
CIWF issued a statement citing two separate studies which, it says, show that both infra-red and hot blade beak trimming can cause acute pain.
Earlier this year, DEFRA ran a consultation setting out its plans to postpone that start-date – though only for infra-red beak trimming.
DEFRA’s view, supported by the Farm Animal Welfare Council, is that any welfare benefits from banning beak trimming would be negated by increased feather pecking and cannibalism as conventional cages are phased out.
“The impact of injurious pecking is greatest in systems of management which do not house hens in cages,” it said. “It is therefore likely to increase after 1 January 2012, when the use of conventional cages will no longer be permitted.”
DEFRA also quoted research by Glasgow University which concluded that “infra-red beak trimming of day old chicks does not result in chronic adverse consequences”.
The British Egg Information Council, endorsed DEFRA and sent a briefing document to MPs, who will have to vote on the plan to postpone the beak trimming ban before the end of the year.
BEIC chief executive Mark Williams said that CIWF was missing the point with its demand for beak trimming to be banned from 1 January 2011. “In our view it would bring no welfare benefit to laying hens – indeed it could have quite the contrary effect,” he said.