Egg producers commit to stop killing male chicks by 2020

baby chicks for united egg producers eblastAn awful farming practice may finally come to an end by 2020, thanks to potential advances in “egg sexing” technology.

Since 2009, Certified Humane® has been advocating for the elimination of the inhumane culling of male chicks in the poultry-breeding business. Culling involves the practice of killing one-day old male chicks because they don’t have any value as meat chickens. (None of the egg producers on the Certified Humane® program hatch their own eggs, so no male chicks are born or macerated on any Certified Humane® farms.)

Some of the methods for the disposal of these male chicks include high speed maceration in a grinder or carbon dioxide (gassing). Occasionally, chicks also have been killed by decapitation, cervical dislocation, electrocution and drowning. All of these are methods result in the deaths of hundreds of millions of male chicks in the U.S. every year and billions worldwide.

In an unprecedented step, the United Egg Producers, which represents 95 percent of the egg industry in the United States, announced it would commit to ending the culling of male chicks by 2020 or as soon as new technologies are “commercially available” and the process is “economically feasible.”

This is the best news we’ve heard for farm animal welfare in a long time.

The most promising research involves ovo-sexing, which would identify the sex of a future chick while it is still inside a fertilized egg allowing hatcheries to terminate male eggs before they hatch. Another potential technology involves injecting green fluorescent protein on the male chromosome of chicks that would turn male eggs a different color than female eggs.

For years, we have urged our supporters to write to the The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Room 200A, Whittenberg Building, Washington, DC 2025 to encourage more research to end culling.  And we have asked you to thank Unilever, which owns Hellman’s mayonnaise and other egg-using companies, for research that will ultimately end the suffering of male chicks at Please continue to do so as they need to know the United Egg Producers will end culling as soon as the research and new technology becomes available to them.

We’re thrilled to see the United Egg Producers make the commitment to end an inhumane farming practice. Thank you for supporting Certified Humane and for making your voice heard on behalf of farm animals.