Independent report

Beak Trimming Action Group review

Setting out the Beak Trimming Action Group’s recommendations after reviewing ways to manage laying hens to avoid the need to trim beaks.


Beak Trimming Action Group Review

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.


This document sets out the group’s recommendations following a review of the available evidence on routine beak trimming of laying hens. The Beak Trimming Action Group (BTAG), comprising representatives from industry, welfare groups, retailers, Defra, scientific and veterinary professions, has examined ways in which laying hens might be managed so that trimming of their beaks is not necessary.

Laying hens have a tendency to peck, which, if redirected to the plumage and skin of other birds, can lead to injury and death. The vast majority of UK laying hens housed in caged, free range or barn systems are routinely beak trimmed to reduce feather pecking.

The government’s response to BTAG’s recommendations was set out in reply to a Parliamentary Question.

We have also published some research which Defra commissioned on the effectiveness of management strategies in reducing injurious pecking of laying hens.

Published 26 November 2015