Animal Rights

United States, no more grinding of new-born chicks by 2020

The lives of millions of little chickens will be spared every year thanks to new technology determining their gender before they hatch.

Egg production in the United States will become less inhuman by 2020. United Egg Producers, an association that represents the majority of egg producers in the US, announced that male chick culling won’t be necessary in 4 years. At present, the sex of newborn chicks used by the egg industry is determined after hatch. In the last fifty years two types of breeds have been created, broilers and egg-laying hens, which have different genomes and are used in different ways. Female chicks, the egg-laying hens to be, are saved, while male chicks, which are commercially useless, are eliminated and killed. Chicks are disposed of in a variety of ways: most of them are swallowed up in a series of ducts and end up on an electric plate where they’re electrocuted, some are thrown in a plastic container where they are suffocated, some others are thrown still alive into high-speed grinders similar to woodchippers.


In the United States over 250 million male chicks are killed every year.


In ovo selection

But in 4 years it won’t be necessary to kill millions of male chicks because new hatcheries have been developed that can determine the gender of chick embryos before they hatch, so that useless chicks for the egg industry can be eliminated before birth. The only eggs that are saved will be those containing female embryos.


culling male chicks
The process of selective killing of little chickens is called “culling” © FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)


The success of The Human League

The elimination of culling was also possible thanks to the struggle carried on by the animal rights association The Humane League. The NGO reached its goal by pressing buyers and asking them to call for higher production standards that don’t affect animal rights.


In the United States the production of eggs has nearly doubled in the ‘30s.


The egg demand will be reduced

This change is good news for chicks as well as for egg-laying hens. Indeed the eggs containing male chick embryos won’t be thrown away, they will be used in vaccinations or pet food. This result in a large reduction in demand on the current laying flocks.

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