Germany and France are teaming up to push for the end of male chick shredding in the European Union by the end of 2021.
Agriculture ministers Julia Klöckner of Germany and Didier Guillaume of France announced their plans to help press this issue further during a Monday meeting in Germany.
Shredding refers to the act of killing male chicks shortly after they hatch. This practice occurs in many poultry businesses because male chicks don’t produce eggs and generate less meat than their female counterparts.
The two European countries hope to bring together industry groups, companies, researchers and campaign groups to “share scientific knowledge” and “implement alternative methods,” France24 reports.
“We welcome this scheme and the fact that non-governmental organizations are involved, but we expect clear regulatory commitments,” Agathe Gignoux of CIWF, a French NGO, said.
In 2009, the Associated Press reported U.S. egg producers euthanize 200 million male chicks per year. According to AP, Chicago-based animal rights organization Mercy for Animals videotaped male chicks being ground up alive while undercover in Iowa hatchery Hy-Line North America that same year.
The same practice appears to occur in Canada, too, though the Canadian government has announced recent changes in an effort to minimize this waste.
Jean-Michel Laurin, president and CEO of the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council, told Global News that the industry has been working towards eliminating the euthanizing of male chicks.
“This requires a great deal of research, which has been occurring worldwide and includes Canadian-based research which has been active for about 10 years,” he said. “Currently, stakeholders in Canadian industry have made significant investments to bring us beyond the research trial phase.”
“Our industry is committed to continually improving practices. Farmers, hatcheries and others in the supply chain have demonstrated, over generations, their desire to improve and to respond to change.”
He added that the National Farm Animal Care Council’s (NFACC) Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Chickens, Turkeys and Breeders lists several methods to euthanize day-old chicks and emphasizes that in all circumstances, the termination of life must be instantaneous.
In 2018, then-Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced an $844,000 investment would go towards developing an electronic scan to determine a bird’s sex and fertility of eggs prior to hatching, Poultry World reported.
This would mean male eggs could be sold before hatching, which would increase capacity and efficiency of Canadian hatcheries and ultimately end male chick culling.
“This investment will help pilot a solution that will be welcomed in Canada and around the world and will keep the egg industry strong and growing.”
The Canadian egg industry contributes over $1 billion a year to the national economy and employs more than 17,000 people.