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German parliament votes in favour of male chick culling law

eggs in hatchery

GERMANY’S lower house, the Bundestag, has voted into law a ban on killing male chicks at day-old.

The law is a species-wide ban on the practice rather than for just laying hen lines, and will come into force on 1 January 2022.

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From 2024, sex identification will have to take place earlier in the incubation process, although the technology does not yet exist in a commercial setting.

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.

In-ovo sexing

The government has invested millions in developing technology to allow in-ovo sexing.

There are now some systems in place in hatcheries that sex eggs before hatching – though they add a premium to the price of eggs.

Germany’s poultry sector has broadly been in favour of banning the practice but says that action should be taken at a Europe-wide level so its domestic hatcheries are not disadvantaged.

Imports

The new law will not prevent the import of eggs and egg products derived from farming systems where male chick culling occurs.

Agriculture minister Julia Klöckner said she hoped that labelling would allow consumers to choose German eggs.