U.S. egg producers announced Wednesday there is not yet a viable alternative to the killing of day-old male chicks in egg production, missing a goal set by the industry in 2016.
The announcement from United Egg Producers comes the same week France announced an impending ban on the mass slaughter of male chicks, according to reports from Agence France-Presse and CNN.
United Egg Producers, which represents the majority of U.S. egg farmers, made national news in 2016 when it announced intentions to end the controversial practice by 2020.
At the time, National Geographic explained slaughtering of hundreds of millions of day-old male chicks was common in the industry, since male chicks don’t lay eggs and aren’t useful for meat production.
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Culled newborn male chicks are electrocuted, gassed or ground up alive, the publication reported.
United Egg Producers had hoped research would provide a method for identifying the sex of a chick before it hatched, but no such “workable, scalable solution” is yet available, according to this week’s statement attributed to Chad Gregory, the president and CEO of United Egg Producers.
The statement says millions of dollars have been spent to find a solution and the industry hopes for a breakthrough.
France, however, is moving ahead with a national ban on the practice, set to take effect by the end of 2021, CNN reported.
Germany already has taken steps to enact a ban, but a court is allowing it to continue until a method of determining the chick’s sex before hatching is feasible, according to AFP.
A statement from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals praised France’s action, while condemning other aspects of the egg industry as unethical.
The ban will mean “millions of male chicks will be spared the horror of being tossed into mechanical macerators while still alive and ground up,” an emailed statement attributed to Mimi Bekhechi said.
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