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Historic Turning Point: Ever Closer to the Ban on the Killing of Male Chicks in Italian Egg Industry

December 3, 2021

The awareness and lobbying campaign carried out by Animal Equality reached a historic turning point in Italy this week, with an amendment presented to the government for the ban on the culling of male chicks by the end of 2026.

In the egg industry, male chicks are considered useless for production, as they are unable to lay eggs, nor can they be used for meat as they are different species from the more common “broiler” chickens used by the food industry. For this reason, between 25 and 40 million male chicks are killed every year in Italy. In the United States, around 260 million male chicks are killed each year.

Shredded alive or suffocated, the chicks are killed within the first 24 hours of birth, and without the use of stunning techniques.

In 2020, Animal Equality Italy launched a campaign to draw attention to the issue and ask the government and Italian egg industry to put an end to this horrific practice. The petition has garnered over 100 thousand signatures and counting. Thanks to this work, the trade association of egg producers, Assoavi, has already supported the introduction of in-ovo sexing technologies capable of avoiding the mass slaughter of male chicks.

The amendment presented this week by Francesca Galizia, member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and who has also gathered support from other politicians, calls for a ban on the selective culling of male chicks by the end of 2026.

The amendment provides time for adaptation to the legislation and for updating the work procedures and the technological state of companies in the sector. It also supports the introduction and development of in-ovo sexing technologies capable of identifying the sex of the chicks before hatching.

In countries such as France and Germany, the introduction of this legislation to ban male chick culling in the egg industry is expected as early as 2022, while the EU Commission has launched a public initiative to carry out an adequacy check of the current rules on the welfare of these chicks.

It is necessary for Italy to make the responsible and respectful choice for animals, sentient beings, who can no longer be considered wasteful products. The selective killing of male chicks that occurs every year should not be the norm, and Parliament has a great opportunity by choosing to support this proposal, which also follows the guidelines dictated by the European Union on animal welfare. It is time to encourage the introduction of these in-ovo sexing technologies in Italy, as producers are already doing, and institutions must commit themselves to this fundamental path for the progress of our country and the animals.

Alice Trombetta, Executive Director of Animal Equality Italy

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