A TOP GERMAN COURT has ruled against a challenge that it is illegal to cull day-old male chicks in hatcheries.

It means producers in the country can continue the practice until a viable alternative is found.

The ruling was made by Germany’s Federal Administrative Court in mid-June and will come as a relief to producers in the country under huge pressure to end the practice.

The case centred around the interpretation of German animal welfare law, which states: “No-one shall inflict pain, suffering or harm on a pet without a reasonable cause.”

And the action brought argued culling chicks for economic reasons constitutes reasonable cause – a lower court felt that it did.

The court in Leipzig confirmed that ruling, and until alternatives are available, the practice will remain permissible.

But pressure remains. Germany’s federal minister for agriculture, Julia Klöckner, has long made it clear that stopping male chick culling is a priority, calling the practice “intolerable”.

The German government itself has invested some €8m into researching alternatives, including in-ovo sexing and rearing male birds.

In 2013 North Rhine-Westphalia banned hatcheries from killing chicks, a decision two hatcheries in the state appealed against.

One German company called Selleggt has successfully launched what it calls “no kill” eggs in the country last year. It extracts fluid from seven-day fertilised eggs and is able to determine the sex based on hormone levels.

The eggs are labelled Respeggt, and are available in more than 200 stores in the country.