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Killing male chicks remains allowed for the time being
They are small, sweet, fluffy and helpless and they are killed millions of times so that we can buy cheap eggs. Male chicks have really not drawn a good lot in Germany. Shortly after birth, they are sorted out, crammed together and then gasified or shredded - around 45 million chicks a year. According to the current judgment of the Federal Administrative Court, this should stay that way until alternative procedures are ready for the market. Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner commented on the verdict: "It is not ethically justifiable." There are already alternatives to killing chicks.
"My position on chick killing has long been clear: it is not ethically justifiable, this practice must be ended as soon as possible," emphasizes the minister in a statement on the Federal Administrative Court's ruling on chick killing. There are already alternatives today. Consumers can choose from which sources they get their eggs.
A chick life is not worth four cents
Why are the male chicks viewed economically as a “committee”? The Gockel put on meat too slowly and would then cause additional costs for the fattening. Therefore, it is cheaper to kill the male chicks. Today there are businesses on the “rooster cocks” or “dual-purpose chickens” laying lines who still raise the male roosters until they are ready for slaughter. The resulting additional costs are then added to the eggs of the chickens and cross-subsidized. There is an average of three to four cents per egg.
Shredding and gasifying chicks remains allowed for the time being
The Federal Administrative Court recently decided whether killing the chicks is compatible with the law. The court ruled that, according to the animal protection law, the economic interest in hens bred especially for high laying performance is not a reasonable reason for killing the male animals. Nevertheless, the practice remains allowed for the time being, since procedures for determining the sex of the egg are likely to be available shortly.
Animal rights activists were disappointed with the verdict. In principle, the court ruled that in current practice, the life of male chicks is denied any intrinsic value and that this is not compatible with the basic idea of the Animal Welfare Act. Nevertheless, the consumer had accepted this procedure for decades. "Against this background, the hatcheries cannot be asked to immediately change their mode of operation," the Federal Administrative Court announced in a press release on the judgment. The court therefore grants laying companies an indefinite transition period to other procedures.
Klöckner wants to end the killing quickly
Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner is committed to ending chick killing quickly. "With a total of over eight million euros, I am therefore funding several procedures and initiatives with my ministry that will make this superfluous in the future," emphasizes the minister in a statement on the verdict.
What are the alternatives?
At the moment, consumers have the option of buying eggs from the laying lines of the dual-purpose chickens or the brother rooster initiatives. Most of the laying companies will probably wait for new processes that are currently under development, but will soon be ready for series production. There are two notable methods for sex determination in the egg. In one method, the eggs are incubated for nine days and then some liquid is removed. The sex can be determined on the basis of the sample. On the other hand, a spectroscopic process is under development in which the egg is illuminated using a special light steel. After four days of breeding, the sex can be determined based on the reflected light. How long the changeover will take is currently unclear. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Klöckner: Killing chicks is not ethically justifiable
- Killing male chicks only permitted temporarily under animal welfare law