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Chick culling is the process of killing newly hatched poultry for which the industry has no use. Due to modern selective breeding, laying hen strains differ from meat production strains. As male birds of the laying strain do not lay eggs and are not suitable for meat production, they are generally killed soon after they hatch[1] and shortly after being sexed. Methods of culling include cervical dislocation, asphyxiation by carbon dioxide and maceration using a high speed grinder.[2]


Prior to the development of modern broiler meat breeds, most male chickens (cockerels) were slaughtered for meat, whereas females (pullets) would be kept for egg production. However, once the industry bred separate meat and egg-producing hybrids, there was no reason to keep males of the egg-producing hybrid. As a consequence, the males of egg-laying chickens are killed as soon as possible after hatching and sexing to reduce losses incurred by the breeder. Special techniques have been developed to accurately determine the sex of chicks at as young an age as possible.

It has been reported that in India for example, more than 180 million male chicks per year are culled. The egg industry in India is growing at the rate of 8-12% yearly, and is the third largest egg producer.[3]

Chicks are also culled in the production of foie gras. After hatching, the ducklings are sexed. Males put on more weight than females, so the females are killed, sometimes in an industrial macerator. Up to 40 million female ducks may be killed in this way. The remains of female ducklings are later used in cat food, fertilisers and in the pharmaceutical industry.[4]


Several methods can be used to kill chicks:

Maceration ensures the chick is killed within 1 sec if performed effectively and competently. This method is considered more humane than gassing the chicks with high concentrations of carbon dioxide. Gassing results in gasping and head shaking, and can take up to two minutes for the chick to die.[6]

US recommended methods[edit]

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends cervical dislocation, maceration, and asphyxiation by carbon dioxide as the better options.[7]

The 2005-2006 American Veterinary Medical Association Executive Board proposed a policy change, which was recommended by the Animal Welfare Committee on disposal of unwanted chicks, poults, and pipped eggs. The policy states "Unwanted chicks, poults, and pipped eggs should be killed by an acceptable humane method, such as use of a commercially designed macerator that results in instantaneous death. Smothering unwanted chicks or poults in bags or containers is not acceptable. Pips, unwanted chicks, or poults should be killed prior to disposal. A pipped egg, or pip, is one where the chick or poult has not been successful in escaping the egg shell during the hatching process."[8]


Animal rights and animal welfare advocates maintain that many of the current practices surrounding chicken slaughtering are unethical.[9]


A Unilever spokesperson has been quoted as saying "We have also committed to providing funding and expertise for research and introduction of alternative methods such as in-ovo gender identification (sexing) of eggs. This new technology offers the potential to eliminate the hatching and culling of male chicks."[3]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chick_culling — Please support Wikipedia.
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Al Jazeera America

Al Jazeera America
Fri, 20 Feb 2015 04:26:16 -0800

But consumer-products giant Unilever, which owns major brands such as Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Hellman's mayo and buys some 350 million eggs each year, took a first step last year, announcing that it will push its egg suppliers to stop male chick ...


Wed, 01 Apr 2015 04:58:04 -0700

... killing abroad, which would not help the animals. He added: "I want us to be a pioneer for better animal welfare in egg production in Europe. "As you saw today, we are making good progress. My goal is that this chick culling ends by 2017 but the ...

Toronto Sun

Toronto Sun
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 10:17:19 -0700

Believe it or not, 'chick sexer' is a real job, and it pays quite handsomely. For over $60,000 a year, a chick sexer has to look at chicks' backsides all day to determine if they are male or female. The process, known as 'vent sexing' involves ...


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Female chicks are cycled through the industry while male chicks undergo chick culling: Male chicks are not suitable for meat because they will not grow the desirable amount of muscle, so many are thrown alive into a grinder. Fortunately, Germany is the ...


Mon, 17 Aug 2015 06:55:35 -0700

Agricultural Minister Christian Schmidt is seeking to phase out chick culling within the next two years and has allocated 1 million euros to help do so. The leading alternative at the moment is gender tests for eggs that would let poultry farmers ...

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Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:31:29 -0700

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