France has pledged to end the practice of macerating or gassing baby male chicks from next year, and will pressure the EU to do the same. Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie of the centre-right governing La République En Marche! party announced the law, which will prevent the killing of 50m birds each year, on Sunday.
A 2009 EU directive permits macerating of chicks of under 72 hours old, provided it causes immediate death, but animal welfare activists have denounced the practice for years as cruelty.
He told Le Parisien: “As of January 1, 2022, all poultry hatcheries will have to have installed or ordered machines letting them learn a chick’s sex in the egg. 2022 will be the year when shredding and gassing of male chicks ends in France.”
In practice, the move means that farmers will need to establish the sex of chicks before they hatch, which requires new equipment, for which the French government will provide €10m in financial support.
Germany pledged to end macerating and gassing in January, while Switzerland passed a ban on macerating last year, although gassing with carbon dioxide is still permitted.
In Britain, 40m chicks are killed by gassing or maceration every year, although evidence has been found that some hatcheries simply tip thousands of chicks into plastic bags, causing the birds to be crushed and/or suffocated to death.
Vegan Conservatives call on the Government to follow the lead of Germany and France in supporting farmers to determine a chick's gender in the egg and end the cruel practice of killing millions of baby chicks.