Chick shredding allowed to continue in Germany

Chick shredding allowed to continue in Germany

The Federal Administrative Court announced this morning that the practice of chick shredding will remain lawful in Germany until proper alternatives are available.

Chick shredding in Germany

Germany’s poultry industry has no use for the male chicks hatched by laying hens. Not only do they not produce eggs, but they also do not carry enough meat to make them profitable. The tiny chicks are therefore gassed with carbon dioxide and fed into a shredder, mere hours after being hatched. Each year, around 45 million chicks in Germany alone are killed this way.

While animal rights protestors have long condemned the practice, today’s decision is the result of a protracted legal battle that began back in 2012 when the Minister for Agriculture in North-Rhine Westphalia, Johannes Remmel, ordered a ban on male chick shredding. His proposal prompted a series of vociferous protests and legal challenges from hatcheries, which ended in a successful appeal to Germany’s administrative courts.

In May 2016, Remmel’s ban was declared unlawful by the Higher Administrative Court in Münster, who ruled that the killing of male chicks is “part of the process of supplying the population with eggs and meat.” Economic considerations rendered the practice “unavoidable”, according to the judges.

Court rules: killing chicks remains legal in Germany

This decision was upheld today in Leipzig, meaning that the practice of chick shredding will, for the time being, continue. However, the court also stated that the economic concerns of farmers are not, in themselves an adequate reason to contravene animal welfare laws. Speaking before the verdict, Minister for Agriculture Julie Klöckner said, “The killing is ethically unacceptable and must be stopped as soon as possible.”

The Ministry, with a budget of more than eight million euros, is promoting various initiatives to make the killing of chicks obsolete in the near future, Klöckner announced. A technique for determining the sex of the egg before hatching is on the point of being introduced into agriculture. This alternative would prevent the hatching and thus killing of male chicks. Until such technology is properly introduced, the mass-killing of male chicks is likely to remain lawful in Germany.



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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