Germany is prohibiting the mass slaughter of day-old male chicks, called chick shredding, from 2022 according to a draft bill signed by the Cabinet on Wednesday. Chicken farms around the world usually kill the male chicks shortly after hatching as they cannot lay eggs and are not suitable for meat production. The German farms will be required to use technology like Seleggt process to prevent male chicks from being born by identifying the sex of the animal before it has hatched. By 2024, the male chicks will be destroyed much earlier in the incubation process so that the embryos feel no pain.
Farmers prefer killing the male chicks as they prefer hens, which can used for laying eggs and for meat. Raising male chickens alongside hens results in a lower profit margin or a higher cost of poultry products.
Germany is also experimenting with dual purpose ‘Lohmann Dual’ chicken, which are much calmer and easier in handling compared to the conventional chicken. However, a German study pointed out that the males of the dual purpose chicken had less protein in their meat and the females laid lesser and smaller eggs.
There are concerns from the producers and animal rights activists. The producers are expecting a fall in productivity and profitability. The rights activists have asked for restructuring of animal husbandry which does not allow sorting of animals due to their usefulness.
In 2019, the Germany’s Federal Administrative Court ruled that animal welfare concerns outweighed the economic interests of farmers and allowed chick shredding only for a transitional period.