Billions of male chicks are slaughtered every year by the egg industry, deemed disposable because they don’t lay eggs. They’re a frequently overlooked victim of the animal agriculture industry and even free range and organic egg farms dispose of day-old male chicks.
In Germany alone, 45 million chicks are grounded or suffocated alive each year. But pressure from animal rights groups has encouraged the German government to fund new research that will end this practice.
The technology is fairly simple: during the egg’s incubation period a small amount of fluid is extracted and analysed. If it is determined to contain a female chick, it will be allowed to continue incubation. If it turns out to contain a male chick, the egg can be disposed of, or used for other purposes, such as animal feed. At this point in the incubation stage, the chicks do not feel pain so this is certainly preferable to the current methods of chick culling.
Germany’s Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt has explained that the method is almost perfected and should be ready for use in Germany’s hatcheries by 2017. This will make Germany the first country in the world to stop the practice of culling male chicks.
Despite the advanced technology being used, Schmidt has assured that the price of eggs will increase by no more than two cents.
This advancement does nothing to improve conditions for the female chicks that are kept by the egg industry, but it is a step in the right direction.