GERMAN poultry producers are calling for an EU-wide position on male chick culling after its government proposed a tightening of regulations there.

The country’s agriculture minister, Julia Klöckner, has submitted draft legislation that would push back the ban on culling male chicks – but introduces a requirement to sex embryos before the seventh day of incubation.

See also: Dutch hatchery adopts in-ovo sexing technology

Under the new proposals killing day-old chicks would be illegal by January 2022, while the seventh-day deadline would come into effect in 2024.

Two commercially available technologies detect embryo sex are currently in use on the European continent, but both add cost to production and have not been widely adopted, to date.

Invested in alternatives

The German Poultry Association (ZDG) said it wanted to end the practice of male chick culling as soon as possible, but the timeframe suggested would prove challenging.

Its president, Friedrich-Otto Ripke, said the industry had invested in alternatives over the past 15 years such as in-ovo sexing and breeding dual-purpose birds.

It had also worked out a “detailed agreement” with German retailers to end the male chick culling.

Transition phase

But Mr Rike said there was currently no technology available that could sex embryos before the seventh day.

“The German poultry industry criticises the short transitional period until the end of 2023 after which the termination of breeding will only be permitted within the sixth day.

“None of the methods ready for practical application as of today allow for a sex determination before the seventh day. Thus, a feasible transition phase is inevitable.”

Mr Ripke also called for a ban at the European level.

European solution

“From 2022 on, male chicks will still be culled in other European countries – and due to existing European supply chains pullets, eggs and egg products with chick culling will still reach the German market.

“Animal welfare with far-reaching effects can only be guaranteed with a European solution.”