German Court Affirms Legality of Mass-Killing Male Chicks

The landmark ruling on June 13th in Germany allows the mass and brutal culling of male chicks to continue until better alternatives are found, and highlights a dark and very cruel practice.

THE DETAILS: The German Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig has decided that the egg industry’s killing of male chicks will continue to be legal until better options are ready to be implemented. The ruling was an unexpected blow, with Friedrich Ostendorff, a spokesman for the German Green party, stating he was “surprised and disappointed” by the court’s decision. In their bid for change, opponents of this barbaric, unnecessary killing often cite paragraph one of Germany’s Animal Welfare Act, which states that: “No-one shall inflict pain, suffering or harm on a pet without a reasonable cause.” The court ruled, however, that until alternative methods are developed, “a continuation of the previous practice in the time being is still a reasonable reason.”

THE BACKGROUND: In 2013, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia tried to ban this cruel practice by decree. However, after two hatcheries filed a lawsuit against the ban, the Higher Administrative Court in Münster in 2016 ruled that killing chicks was compatible with the Animal Protection Act. Economic viability has so far been considered a “reasonable reason” to hatch millions of male chicks and kill them immediately after birth despite protests from those in Germany’s government, including German Minister for Agriculture, Julia Klöckner, who described the mass-killing as “ethically unacceptable” and called for its ban.

UNIMAGINABLE SUFFERING: Male chicks are considered useless by the egg industry as they cannot lay eggs and their bodies are not suitable for the production of meat. Because their rearing would not be economically profitable for businesses, billions of the baby birds are killed shortly after birth – usually by grinding or gassing. In Germany alone, about 45 million male chicks are suffocated with carbon dioxide or shredded alive on the first day of their lives every year. 

WHAT WE’RE SAYING: “The reality for 45 to 50 million male chicks born in the egg industry in Germany every year will not change immediately but in 2020 at the earliest: For now, the chicks will continue to be cruelly shredded or suffocated by gas. Apart from negative effects of the judgement however new possibilities result to proceed against cruelties in the factory farming industry because the court states: Economic interests are per se no “good reason” in the sense of the Animal Welfare Act, in order to inflict pain, suffering or damage on an animal,” says Dörte Röhl, Animal Welfare Specialist at Animal Equality Germany. 

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Purchasing eggs not only supports the cruel killing of male chicks, it also sanctions the horrible conditions egg-laying hens suffer in every day. We are working tirelessly around the world to end these cruel practices. Until changes are made, the most effective way to diminish the suffering of male and female chicks is to reduce or eliminate eggs from your diet and urge your friends and family to do the same. Plant-based alternatives are in abundance these days and on our Love Veg website, we show you how to make compassionate choices that are healthier and cruelty-free.