Residents of Dorset please spare a thought for factory farmed animals.

Four Paws, the animal protection organisation, is encouraging people to think about the animals who suffer cruel factory farm practices like debeaking, which is also called beak trimming, and is the partial removal of the beak of poultry, especially laying hens and turkeys.

Every year millions of laying hens are confined in cages and millions of turkeys are intensively reared in barren, overcrowded sheds.

These conditions cause suffering and can lead to aggression and abnormal behaviour such as feather-pecking. In the worst cases this can develop into cannibalism.

The industry’s answer to reduce feather-pecking is to remove up to a third of the beak of baby chicks when they are no more than 10 days old.

Birds use their beaks to touch, explore and feel. The beak contains nerves, so when the beak is cut with a hot blade or infra-red beam, the bird will suffer and experience pain.

This horrific practice was due to be banned for laying hens in the UK from January 2011. However, the government has recently announced that this ban will now be postponed until at least 2016.

The hot-blade method will no longer be permitted but the infra-red method will continue to be allowed, even though research shows that this method also causes pain.

Scientific evidence and experience in other countries where beak trimming has been banned demonstrate that the practice is not necessary if birds are kept in good conditions with adequate space and opportunities to forage and behave naturally.

Be a compassionate shopper and avoid buying factory farmed products. Charities like Four Paws campaign against beak trimming of egg-laying hens: Angelique Davies, Four Paws, London