THE UK’s Animal Welfare Committee has published a new report examining the practice of male chick culling.

In particular, the research looks at new technologies that can determine the sex of fertilised eggs before hatch.

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It also considers the animal welfare implications of ending male chick culling, given that they are an important food source for captive raptors.

And it examines the climate cost of incubating male chicks for them to be culled after hatching.

The report has been published on the Welsh Government website and ultimately recommends that the practice should become illegal, “as soon as reliable, accurate methods for sexing eggs prior to hatch are available to be implemented in GB hatcheries”.

Support

But it also recommends financial support should be made available to the poultry sector to introduce such technologies.

Some European businesses have responded to bans in the culling of male chicks by introducing new technologies that can determine the sex chicks will be once they hatch.

The report suggests there is a significant cost to in-ovo sexing, put at £3/chick payable by the farmer, compared with £0.75 for a conventionally incubated chick. The higher price is passed on to consumers.

Others have used “dual breed” systems where roosters are reared for meat with hens kept for laying eggs.

Europe

In Europe, both France and Germany have banned the culling of male chicks, though the former has an exemption for white hens, which are more difficult to sex.

The countries have called for a European ban on the practice.

The full report is available on the Welsh Government website.