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Germany’s Decision to Affirm Legality of Male Chick Shredding Shines Global Spotlight on Practice

June 10, 2016 by Leave a Comment

The News

The German parliament recently voted against a Green Party bill that would have banned the practice of killing newborn male chicks in the egg industry. According to a spokesman from the ruling Christian Democratic Union Party, the decision was made out of fear that “…animal production will move to another country.” A high court affirmed this decision, arguing that German law allows the killing of animals if it can be justified economically and that chick shredding is “…part of the process for providing the population with eggs and meat.” An agricultural minister from Northern Germany disagreed with the decision, stating “We must finally stop treating animals like garbage.”

Since male chicks cannot lay eggs or be profitably raised for meat, they are usually killed within hours of hatching. The most common methods are grinding them up alive (maceration), gassing, electrocution or suffocation by stuffing them into garbage bags. In Germany, approximately 40 million newborn male chicks are killed every year. Worldwide, the number is estimated to be 2.5 billion.

Two widely used methods of male chick culling are maceration and suffocation.

Two widely used methods of male chick culling are maceration and suffocation.

“If killing millions of newborns doesn’t violate the animal protection laws of a country widely perceived as being on the forefront of animal welfare reform, then one can only imagine what farm animal practices are legal in countries like the U.S.,” said Karen Davis, President of United Poultry Concerns, a national advocacy group that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. “It is thus interesting that the U.S. egg industry trade group, United Egg Producers (UEP), has just announced it will, by 2020, replace the killing of newborn male chicks with ‘in-ovo egg sexing,’ a process in which the sex of chicks is identified before they develop inside of their eggs.”

UEP’s announcement was made in response to a campaign by The Humane League, a national animal advocacy organization that works to protect animals through public education, campaigns and rescue.

In response to the news, Davis said, “While in-ovo chick sexing must surely be less inhumane than the mass-extermination of fully developed chicks, it does not eliminate the inherent cruelty of commercial egg production.”

Israeli animal rights activists occupy a chick hatchery and shuts down a macerator in the process of grinding newborn male chicks.

Israeli animal rights activists occupy a chick hatchery and shuts down a macerator in the process of grinding newborn male chicks.

The practice of chick shredding has generated tremendous controversy worldwide in recent years. In June, 2015, Israeli animal rights activists occupied a hatchery and shut off a macerator that was grinding newborn chicks. When police arrived at the scene,  activist Tal Gilboa challenged an officer, saying “I want to see you, as a human being regardless of your uniform, cop or no cop, turn on the power supply.” The video of this act of civil disobedience was viewed over two million times on Facebook.

Your Turn

To learn more about The Humane League’s successful campaign to end the mass killing of male chicks in the egg industry, please visit the organization’s blog post about its victory.

To learn more about the plight of chickens in the egg industry, please visit United Poultry Concerns.

Comments via Facebook Comments

  1. Chris Williams says:

    Ultimately the decision will have been made with monetary cost in mind… never mind the cost of suffering of animals.

  2. Leda Leitner says:

    It is not bad enough that these male chicks are MURDERED right after they are born, BUT, it is the methods used to carry our these death sentences! AND, if you think that it is just OVER THERE, think again. The good ol’ US of A is just as, IF NOT MORE THAN, guilty of animal cruelty than ANY OTHER COUNTRY, including China. Factory farming is big business here as well. Do you think that these animals are pampered? Same thing with chickens. WHAT do you think they do with the male chicks here? AND, if all that isn’t bad enough, millions of dogs and cats are euthanized (nice word for murdered) in shelters across the country EVERY YEAR!!!!!AND we act all shocked and indignant when we hear about the animal cruelty going on in other countries. ALL I AM TRYING TO SAY IS THAT WE NEED TO CLEAN UP OUR OWN BACK YARDS FIRST BEFORE WE START SLINGING MUD INTO SOMEONE ELSES YARD!

  3. Kim Barrett says:

    This needs to STOP

  4. Still killing, just sooner. Moral bankruptcy, regardless. For heaven’s sake, just leave the animals alone and eat something else. The Real Cost of Eggs:
    – laying hens have been bred to lay incessantly. Chickens in the wild lay fewer than 20 eggs a year and live to 30 years old. Contemporary laying hens lay between 300 and 350 eggs a year and develop reproductive disease which is the cause of up to 90% of mortality in egg-laying flocks beginning at the age of 2 years old. It is a protracted and horrible death. Google “laying hens and ovarian cancer” and “egg yolk peritonitis in laying hens” and choose “images”.
    – for every laying hen there is a dead or abandoned rooster. Google “male chicks”.

  5. Joan Armer says:

    This is another example of total thoughtlessness, and unwillingness to be humane, not new for that culture, sadly. Had hoped things had changed there…

  6. Karen Davis says:

    It remains to be seen what happens by the year 2020. Meanwhile, our “friend” Bill Gates, who’s promoted plant protein in other venues, to alleviate world hunger and help the planet, is now promoting/bankrolling chicken production in Africa: “Bill Gates Launches Chicken Plan to Help Africa poor”

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