Owen Paterson, Defra Secretary of State has said that he would like to hear from more poultry farmers after seeing first-hand why beak- trimming takes place, according to the NFU.
A review into trimming will take place in 2015 when it will be finally decided whether to employ a wholesale ban from 2016. Egg producers argue that although they bear the cost (around three pence per hen), the benefits to the bird are worth it.
Animal welfare commentators say they would like to see alternative management practices developed but accept that an outright ban now would have a negative impact.
Back in 2011, the Farm Animal Welfare Council called for a proposed ban to be deferred until it can be demonstrated that laying hens can be managed without beak trimming without a greater risk to their welfare than that caused by trimming itself.
The technique is also less intrusive than de-beaking which is still carried out in other countries.
After NFU member Alex Woollam wrote to Mr Paterson, the Secretary of State decided to visit his Oswestry unit to see how the issue is handled first-hand.
The farm tour – attended by NFU advisers and other producers – took place in August. And the politician has now said that he would like to hear from more producers in the future so he can get a clear understanding of opinion.
Defra formed a Beak Trimming Action Group designed to develop and implement an action plan to inform government on the situation in regard to a ban on beak trimming in 2016 – ensuring that the welfare of laying hens is not compromised.