GERMANY has taken another step towards becoming the first country in the world to ban the culling of male chicks.
Its agriculture minister, Julia Klöckner, said in a statement that a draft law had been approved by the federal cabinet that would outlaw the practice from 1 January 2022.
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And from 2024, hatcheries would have to sex eggs even earlier in their incubation.
It will now need further approval from Germany’s lower house, the Bundestag, before becoming law.
Male chicks hatched from laying hen genetic stock are usually culled because they are uneconomical and ill-suited to be reared for their meat, and do not lay eggs.
There has long been political pressure in the country to end the practice of culling male chicks.
The government has invested millions in developing technology to allow in-ovo sexing.
It has also explored the use of dual-purpose breeds of bird, which both lay eggs and can be reared for meat – but not as efficiently as specialist breeds.
There are now some systems in place in hatcheries that sex eggs before hatching – though they add a premium to the price of eggs on supermarket shelves.
Germany’s poultry union, the ZDG, has said it wants to end the practice of male chick culling but says it should be a European initiative, rather than a unilateral one.
It has warned that the ban would undermine its domestic poultry industry.
And it also called for a transition period until the end of 2023, to allow the sector to adapt hatcheries.
France has also committed to ending the practice by 2022.