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Poultry Industry

Volume 403: debated on Tuesday 8 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on the practice of debeaking in the poultry industry; and if she will make a statement. [106531]

Generally beak trimming should only be carried out as a last resort when it is clear that more suffering would be caused in the flock if it were not done.There are, however, specific requirements for laying hens in Council Directive 99/74/EC. The Directive prohibits all mutilations, but permits member states to allow the beak trimming of birds that are less than 10 days old in order to prevent feather pecking and cannibalism. We intend to take up this authorisation only until 31 December 2010, and have met interested parties, including the egg industry and breeders, to agree an action plan to achieve this aim.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the mortality rates were of poultry kept in (a) battery units, (b) enriched units and (c) alternative units in the last year for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. [106532]

The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 require poultry keepers to record mortality rates and have the records available for inspection. The State Veterinary Service uses the rates as an indicator of management practice on-farm. However, the figures are not recorded on a central database.