There is a low-profile practice in the rearing of chicks for the egg production industry. It is the crushing of male chicks. About 45 million male chicks are killed each year. These chicks are killed because they are not used in the production of laying hens and are too expensive to raise.
Why are male chicks killed en masse?
In poultry farming for egg production, the chicks are sorted from their first days. It is obvious that it is the females that are of interest to the breeders, while the males are left unused. After selection of the females, the males are immediately killed, as it is not profitable to raise them to slaughter weight. The chicks intended for layer production are sold to farmers.
In addition, the chicks are divided into three distinct categories as soon as they are produced. There are chicks intended for broiler production, layer chicks and the mixed breed. It is therefore impossible to use chicks from the laying sector in the broiler sector because they are slower growing. That is why they are killed.
What are the procedures for killing male chicks?
Once separated from the females, male chicks are usually killed by drowning or crushing. The chick crushing technique is the most commonly used. It is claimed that crushing allows immediate death without suffering for the animals. The chicks killed usually live only 72 hours. The European regulation also specifies the maximum number of chicks to be introduced into the crusher and the speed of rotation of the crusher, this is intended to limit the suffering of the chicks as much as possible.
The crushing of chicks is therefore a legal practice, but is it still permissible? Most animal welfare organisations say no. Indeed, hatching chicks just to slaughter them is considered not very respectful of nature. In order to avoid this, several solutions can be considered.
Some alternatives to crushing chicks
Several animal welfare organizations have denounced this practice, and legislation tends to seek to prohibit it. Between now and then, it is important to publicize this barbaric practice, in order to make the general public aware of it, while hoping for a change in their consumption habits. There are also other ways to make male chicks profitable, the main alternatives to the crushing of chicks are the rearing of male chicks or the sexing of chicks directly from the egg. For the rearing of male chicks, it is possible to give preference to mixed breeds, in order to make the rearing of both males and females profitable. This will avoid the need to kill them. With regard to sexing in the egg, it does not yet exist, but studies are being carried out in several countries in order to implement it.