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Battery chickens can now keep their beaks

Industry has decided to stop removing battery chicken beaks

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The Danske Æg trade association has decided to stop de-beaking battery chickens as experience of the past few years shows that it is no longer necessary, according to from the Danish Agriculture and Food association.

“Hens have new and better cages with nesting material, perches and more space. And in recent years people have been raising chickens that are less likely to be aggressive. Two thirds of the battery chicken egg producers have already dropped de-beaking,” Sector Chief Jørgen Nyberg Larsen tells the Foodculture newsletter.

Larsen says that the fact that some producers still de-beak is down to habit more than necessity.

Veterinary Susanne Kabell of the Knowledge Centre for Agriculture says de-beaking of Danish hens probably does not involve pain for the hens as long as the procedure is carried out according to the rules. Nonetheless, she believes that the decision to stop de-beaking is a positive one.

“It is always a good idea that animals can live as naturally as possible. So it’s a good idea to stop trimming their beaks in order to avoid stress,” she tells the newsletter.

But she adds that if a beak is trimmed wrongly, it has major consequences for the hen as it then has difficulty eating.

“There is no real need to trim any more, and there hasn’t been a need for the past five to ten years. But we have only just dared stop for fear of cannibalism among our battery chickens,” says Helge Strandgaard Hansen, a battery egg producer from Funen.

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